Taking care of yourself

Having a child diagnosed with cancer will affect you as parents or carers, and the people close to you.

It is important to take care of your own needs and to not feel guilty about doing so. For example, eating and sleeping well, exercising if possible, dealing with any health problems and taking regular breaks will help you cope and care for your child. 

Parents often find it hard to express their grief and fears to each other, with the result that they bottle up their feelings, become tense and argue more than usual. 

Different people have different ways of coping with stress and what helps one can irritate another. If you can, try to talk to each other as openly as possible, and be as supportive and patient as you can.

Understandably, when you’re feeling unhappy you may want to avoid seeing friends and taking part in social activities.

But it can help to keep up with your usual interests as much as possible and if your energy allows. Having a break and being distracted from the cancer and its treatment will do everyone good. 

Some of your friends may not know what to say to you, so it may be up to you to bring up the subject of your child’s illness. Others may surprise you with their sympathy and understanding.

Grandparents, aunts, uncles or other close family relatives often have reactions similar to those of parents and may struggle to deal with some of the same emotions.

They usually need to be given accurate information about what’s happening and, if possible, be asked to give help and support.

There’s no right or wrong way to feel.

You’ll probably find that your emotions go up and down a lot during the days and weeks following the diagnosis, and that your feelings change over time. 

There are many people who can help you deal with these difficult feelings and emotions. You might want to talk to someone close to you, such as your partner or other family member. However, some people find it easier to talk to someone they don’t know so well such as a healthcare professional or perhaps a colleague at work.

The staff at the hospital, including specialist nurses and doctors, can listen and talk to you. Many hospitals treating children have parent groups where you can meet other parents with similar fears and worries.

One of the worries you may have when you hear that your child has cancer is what to say to friends and relatives.

Every family is different, but many parents find it helpful to be open and honest about the situation. It can help to keep family and friends informed over the weeks and months of treatment. It’s then easier for them to understand any changes in behaviour and to offer suitable help and support.

Discover More Stories…

Tiwo’s story

Five years after developing cancer and two years of treatment later, six-year-old Tiwo is doing well

Read more

Hassan’s story

14-year-old Hassan from the Machinga district of Malawi was diagnosed with Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) last year.

Read more

Franklyn’s Story

Meet Franklyn, now 17, who is fully recovered from cancer and dreams of becoming a doctor to help others

Read more

Rebecca’s Success Story

Rebecca is now able to return to school after undergoing cancer treatment through World Child Cancer in Ghana

Read more

My road to recovery

Prince went on to become a childhood cancer advocate and help many other children just like him when he recovered from leukaemia. Read More

Read more

Estaphanie is excited to start university!

Meet Estaphanie, who is excited to start university after being forced to take time out of school following a cancer diagnosis

Read more

Meet Bulu

Bulu is looking forward to following in his brother’s footsteps getting back on the football field

Read more

Meet Oscar

Oscar was six years old when his mother noticed a swelling on his tummy and took him to a traditional village doctor

Read more
Will you join us?

Together we can close the gap in childhood cancer care.

DONATE