Childhood Cancer

Childhood Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

Chapter 16: Family and Friends

Shared joy is double joy, shared sorrow is half sorrow.

— Swedish proverb

THE INTERACTIONS BETWEEN the parents of a child with cancer and their family members, and friends are complex. Potential exists for loving support and generous help, as well as for bitter disappointment and disputes. The diagnosis of a brain or spinal cord tumor creates a ripple effect, first touching the immediate family, then extended family, friends, coworkers, schoolmates, church/synagogue/mosque members, and, sometimes, the entire community.

This chapter begins with how family life needs to be restructured to cope with treatment. It then provides scores of ideas for helpful things extended family members and friends can do to support the family of a child with a brain or spinal cord tumor during this difficult time. To prevent possible misunderstandings, parents of children with cancer also share their thoughts about things that are not helpful.