- Cancer Information
- Family and friends
- Talking to kids about cancer
- Talking about 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.
What if your regular routine changes?
If you need to change 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 family members 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.
Protecting the time your family has together
During treatment, when life may be disrupted and unsettled, try to protect the time your family has together. Here are some ideas:
- Some families may limit visitors and choose not to answer any phones at mealtimes. Others may welcome some visitors at this time.
- You may want to set some boundaries around when friends phone you, or you might ask them to send an email or keep in touch through social media platforms. There are many ways to keep family and friends updated on how you are doing. You may use a closed Facebook group, set up a chat group on a messaging app, or use Caring Bridge.
- Think of things to do together that don’t require much energy. You could read a book aloud, watch a movie, or play a board game or a video game.
- Ask a close friend or relative to coordinate all offers from friends and family to help out with household chores. To help coordinate offers of help, you may choose to use an app, such as Gather my Crew or KiteCrew.
- 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.
Camp Quality Family Retreats offers holiday accommodation to families affected by cancer. This is often the first break a family has after a cancer diagnosis, and it gives them the chance to relax and reconnect.
Podcast: Family Dynamics and Cancer
Prof Jane Turner AM, International Psycho-Oncology Society President Emeritus,The University of Queensland, QLD; Taylor Baker, Consumer; Dr Ben Britton, Principal Clinical and Health Psychologist, Head of Psychology, Hunter New England Mental Health, NSW; Camp Quality; Dr Lisa Cuddeford, Head of Department, WA Paediatric Palliative Care Service, Perth Children’s Hospital, WA; A/Prof Peter Downie, Head, Paediatric Haematology–Oncology and Director, Children’s Cancer Centre, Monash Children’s Hospital, VIC; Dr Sarah Ellis, Clinical Psychologist, Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital, NSW; Malia Emberson-Lafoa’i, Consumer; Kate Fernandez, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Jane Gillard, Consumer; Mary McGowan OAM, International Childhood Cancer Advocate, VIC; Annette Polizois, Senior Social Worker, Women, Family and Emergency Care Team, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Rhondda Rytmeister, Clinical Psychologist, HeadWayHealth (formerly Snr Clinical Psychologist, The Cancer Centre for Children, Westmead, NSW); Nadine Street, Head of Social Work and Social Welfare, HNE Mental Health Service, NSW; Warren Summers, Online Counsellor, Canteen, NSW.
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, Founder and 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, How children understand cancer; page 22, Answering key questions: Are you going to die?; page 26, Involving the school or preschool; pages 30–31, Hospital visits; and pages 36–37, 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, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, for her contribution on page 20, When another child has cancer; and Diane McGeachy, Hobart Counselling Centre, for contributing material for page 37, Spending one-on-one time.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.