Childhood Cancer

Childhood Leukemia

Chapter 18: 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 childhood cancer creates a ripple effect, first touching the immediate family, then reaching extended family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, schoolmates, members of religious groups, and, sometimes, the entire community.

This chapter begins with how family life can be restructured to cope with treatment. It then provides many practical ideas about helpful things that extended family members and friends can do to support the family of a child with cancer. To prevent possible misunderstandings, parents of children with cancer also share their thoughts about things that are not helpful.