Childhood Cancer

Why was his hair falling out? Why was he going to the hospital all the time? What was happening?

Why was he getting so many presents?

— Chet Stevens Straight from the Siblings: Another Look at the Rainbow

CHILDHOOD CANCER TOUCHES all members of the family, with especially long-lasting effects on siblings. The diagnosis creates an array of conflicting emotions in siblings; not only are the siblings concerned about their ill brother or sister, but they usually resent the turmoil that the family has been thrown into. They feel jealous of the gifts and attention showered on the sick child, yet feel guilty for having these emotions. The days, months, and years after diagnosis can be extremely difficult for the sibling of a child with a brain or spinal cord tumor.

Ways to explain the diagnosis to siblings are discussed in Chapter 4, Telling Your Child and Others. This chapter discusses common emotions and behaviors of siblings and provides insights about how to cope from parents and siblings who have been through this experience.