Childhood Cancer

Childhood Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

Positive outcomes for the siblings

After reading about all the difficult emotions your children might experience, it is important to note that many siblings exhibit great warmth and active caretaking while their brother or sister is being treated for a brain or spinal cord tumor. Their empathy and compassion seem to grow with the crisis.

Some brothers and sisters of children with cancer feel they have benefited from the stressful experience in many ways, such as: increased knowledge about disease, increased empathy for the sick or disabled, increased sense of responsibility, enhanced self-esteem, greater maturity and coping ability, and increased family closeness. Many of these siblings mature into adults interested in the caring professions, such as medicine, social work, or teaching. Character can grow from confronting a personal crisis, and many parents speak of their healthy children with admiration and pride.


Brothers and sisters of those with cancer go through much adversity, as we parents do. At times, much is overlooked, unintentionally of course, because of the many changes in our lives that we experience at such a difficult time. Well, today, I want to pay a small tribute to Tommy’s 15-year-old brother, Matt. From the time Tommy was diagnosed, Matt has been by his side. The first night Matt wouldn’t go to bed, just so he could stand by Tommy’s bedside and be close to him. When we got back home, Matt took over and made sure Tommy would get his “daily laugh.” Every evening, even when Tommy felt too sick to sit up, Matt would be there and always made us smile and laugh. As we all know, the siblings sacrifice much of their own lives during this time. Whether it be their social activities or school work, much of their “normal” lifestyle is changed. They even show their courage through the wide range of emotions, including much sorrow, that they experience. It is said, “Angels shine their light on us that we may see more clearly.” So as our angel on earth, thank you Matt for shining your light on your brother Tommy, and may you also be blessed with the light of angels.