Feature Archive

When Someone in Your Family Has Cancer

A Message for Children

WebMD Feature

When someone in your family has cancer, it may mean many things to you. Other people who have been through it say it can be a lot of things: confusing, scary, lonely, and much more. You may find that you have feelings that are hard to understand and sometimes hard to share.

This article tells about the experiences of others who have had a family member with cancer. Some of what you read, especially about feelings, may not make sense or seem right to you. It may even seem silly. Or it may seem a lot like what you've felt and what has happened to you.

Remember, feelings aren't "good" or "bad." They are just feelings and are normal and shared by many others. And even if you try to wish them away or ignore them, or if you feel guilty or ashamed of them, they'll still be there.

A good way to handle feelings is to admit you have them and to talk about them. Talk with your parents, other adults, or your friends. Or you can talk with others who have had a family member with cancer. You'll be surprised how much better you feel once you have talked about your feelings.

People to Help You, Besides Your Parents

For Support and Sharing Feelings:

  • Grandparents, aunts, uncles
  • Neighbors
  • Teachers, guidance counselors
  • Ministers, rabbis, priests
  • Coaches, youth, or scout leaders
  • Special adult friends
  • Older brother or sister
  • Friends your own age
For Support and Information About Cancer:
  • Someone at the hospital -- a doctor, nurse, social worker, or other person treating your family member
  • Family doctor
  • School nurse
It May Be Hard to Talk About Cancer