- Cancer Information
- Family and friends
- Talking to kids about cancer
- Talking: Treatment
- Family life during treatment
- Encouraging family time
Encouraging family time
Maintaining routines and family traditions as much as possible will help children and young people feel safe and secure. Sometimes you have to strike a balance between doing regular activities and coping with the effects of the cancer.
If you have to adjust a regular routine during treatment, tell children what the change will be, why it’s occurring and how it will affect them. They will probably want to know who will look after them, such as who will take them to school or sport or do the cooking. Tell your children where you’ll be, such as at the hospital or resting at home. If you or your partner can’t get them to their after-school activities, arrange for a friend or relative to help out. If that’s not possible, you may have to cut back on the activities for a while, but involve your children in the decision.
During treatment, when life may be disrupted and unsettled, try to protect the time your family has together. Here are some tips you could try:
- Limit visitors and don’t answer any phones at mealtimes.
- Ask your friends to send an email rather than call. For phone calls, ask them to ring when the children are at school or after their bedtime.
- Think of things to do together that don’t require much energy. You could share reading a book aloud, watching a movie, or playing a board game.
- Ask a close friend or relative to coordinate all offers from friends and family to help out with household chores. This will give you more time with your family.
- Plan for “cancer-free” time with the family where you don’t focus on the illness but do fun things that allow you to laugh, joke and relax.
- Use an invite-only blog, such as caringbridge.org/, to update family and friends on how you’re doing, or put a message on your voicemail.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
We thank the reviewers of this book: Professor Kate White, Chair of Nursing, The University of Sydney, NSW; Sarah Ellis, Psychologist, Behavioural Sciences Unit, Kids with Cancer Foundation, Sydney Children’s Hospital, NSW; Kate Fernandez, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Chandra Franken, Program Manager – NSW & ACT, Starlight Children’s Foundation, NSW; John Friedsam, General Manager of Divisions, CanTeen, NSW; Keely Gordon-King, Cancer Counselling Psychologist, Cancer Council Queensland; Stephanie Konings, Research Officer, CanTeen, NSW; Sally and Rosie Morgan, Consumers; Dr Pandora Patterson, General Manager, Research and Youth Cancer Services, Canteen, and Adjunct Associate Professor, Cancer Nursing Research Unit, The University of Sydney, NSW and Visiting Professor, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University, UK; Suzanne Rumi, Consumer; Michael Sieders, Primary School Program Manager, Camp Quality.
We would also like to thank the health professionals, consumers, organisations and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title, and we are grateful to the parents and young people whose real-life stories have added to the richness and relevance of this book.
We thank and acknowledge Dr Paula K. Rauch, MD, Founding Director, Marjorie E. Korff PACT (Parenting At a Challenging Time) Program and Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, whose research and writing on helping parents talk to their children about cancer was used as source material for this book and has been adapted in several sections: pages 8 -11, Different views of cancer; page 24, Answering key questions: Are you going to die?; pages 26 -27, Involving the school or preschool; pages 30 -31, Prepare for hospital and treatment centre visits; and page 37, Encouraging family time. We also thank the American Cancer Society for permission to use and adapt material on pages 8 -11 from its book Cancer in Our Family: Helping children cope with a parent’s illness (2013); Macmillan Cancer Support for permission to use its book Talking to Children and Teenagers When an Adult Has Cancer (2013) as a source of information; Jessica Watt, Oncology Social Worker, Children’s Hospital Westmead, for her contribution on page 18, When another child has cancer; Diane McGeachy, Hobart Counselling Centre, for contributing material for page 38, Spending one-on-one time; and Dr Ranjana Srivastava, and The Guardian for permission to adapt €œHow do you tell your children you have cancer? €_x009d_, on pages 21 and 47 – full story is available at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/nov/29/how-do-you-tell-your-children-you-have-cancer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.