- Cancer Information
- Schools and teachers
- Cancer in the school community
- When a family member has cancer
- Helping classmates understand
Helping classmates understand
Parents may be concerned about the reactions of their child’s classmates to the situation. Awareness raising and education about cancer can help encourage a supportive environment, but it’s important to discuss this first with the student and their family.
It’s also a good idea to include the student in discussions about how to share the news about their family member’s diagnosis. Young people can be particularly self-conscious and sensitive to others’ reactions. Talking about the situation with their classmates can increase understanding and acceptance, and may make life easier for the affected student. Be mindful, however, that some affected students will prefer to deal with their family situation privately and their wishes should be respected.
Ways to create a supportive school environment include:
- integrating information about cancer into the curriculum
- maintaining a positive school culture of respectful relationships where bullying or cruel comments (either in person or online) are less likely to occur
- planning cancer awareness activities or events to teach students more about cancer
- holding a cancer fundraising event, if the family agrees.
Cancer fundraising events
When a member of your school community is confronted by cancer, people usually ask: “How can we help?”
While the primary role of schools is to educate students, some schools allow students and staff to organise fundraising programs. These can be standalone events or may be combined with other awareness-raising activities.
A family member’s cancer often leads to considerable financial strain because income is lost and treatment-related expenses mount. However, it is important to check with the family before any fundraising event is planned, as they may not be comfortable with the idea and their wishes should always be respected.
Your school community may choose to donate any funds raised directly to the family. Alternatively, you and the family might decide to support cancer charities.
Cancer fundraising events not only collect money to help people with cancer. They can also empower school community members, help educate others and spread a message of support and hope.
Podcast: Family Dynamics and Cancer
Claire Tobin, Principal Medical Advisor, Department of Education and Training, VIC; Dr Antoinette Anazodo, Paediatric and Adolescent Oncologist, Sydney Children’s Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital, Director of The Sydney Youth Cancer Service, and Conjoint Senior Researcher, University of New South Wales, NSW; Lisa Barrow, Clinical Nurse Educator, Children’s Cancer Centre, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, VIC; Margo Bulic, Psychosocial Support Worker, CanTeen, ACT; Amber Copeland, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland; Donna Drew, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Paediatric Oncology/Palliative Care, Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, NSW; Allesha Fecondo, Education Consultant, Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service, and Education Liaison, Ronald McDonald Learning Program, Ronald McDonald House Charities Australia, VIC; John Friedsam, General Manager of Divisions, CanTeen Australia, NSW; Pina Hutcheson, President, Catholic Primary Principals’ Association of WA; Cara Irvine, Year 8 Coordinator, Alfred Deakin High School, ACT; Andrew Long, Assistant Director, Policy and Research, Independent Schools Council of Australia, ACT; Dr Alistair Lum, Post-doctoral Research Fellow – Behavioural Sciences Unit, Sydney Children’s Hospital, University of New South Wales, NSW; Kristine Luszczynski, Learning Program Manager, Quality and Standards, Ronald McDonald House Charities Australia, NSW; Anita Neville, National Manager, Ronald McDonald Learning Program, Ronald McDonald House Charities Australia, VIC; NSW Department of Education, NSW; Mandy Roney, Consumer; Shannon Rush, Primary School Program Manager, Camp Quality, SA; Luke Wade, Education and Career Support Consultant, Redkite, QLD.
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