Childhood Cancer

Childhood Leukemia

Chapter 17: Siblings

“Why was his hair falling out?
Why was he going to the hospital all the time?
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 they concerned about their ill brother or sister, but they usually resent the turmoil the family has been thrown into. They may 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 cancer.

Ways to explain the diagnosis to siblings are discussed in Chapter 7, Telling Your Child and Others. This chapter focuses on common emotions and behaviors of siblings and provides insight into how to cope from parents and siblings who have been through this experience.