For Parents

The cancer experience has many faces. For children, the face of cancer is a frightening, confusing and lonely experience in their little lives. No one in the family knows how or what to tell the children that somone he/she loves is sick, perhaps really sick. At the age of 10, 11 or 12 children are overwhelmed with homework, friends, sports, TV shows, clothing, and perhap, their first "crush." Children at this age experience a lot of change in their lives already. The news of cancer compounds the change further, especially when loss of hope, control and uncertainty sets in. Often times children ask "Was it my fault?" "Who will take me to school?" "Will I get cancer?" "Who will teach my how to drive or take me to buy my prom dress....?" These questions are common among children of all ages and across all cultures. As a parent, telling children about the news of cancer is the most difficult thing to do.

Here are a few ideas of how to support children of parents or siblings with cancer.

1. Love Time:
Create "Love Time" with each child to share and chat about their day and activities. Creating exclusive time with each child is very important. This special time will make them feel that you are still listening to their needs and thoughts.

2. Picture Day:
Ask a family member to take pics of you and each child on a scheduled day of each week. There are only 52 weeks in the year! Pictures speak a thousand words...and pics last forever!

3. Tea Time or Water Time or Milk Time or Punch Time:
Ask each child to be responsible to bring you a glass of water/tea/milk, or a pillow, or a read from your favorite newspaper, or massage your thumb, or paint your toe nails etc. on a scheduled day and time of the week. Children often times feel a loss of control during this time. Giving them a task helps them feel they have purpose during this time and a part of your healing.

4. Walk With Sally's Mentoring Program:
Walk With Sally believes "friendships" heal. At Walk With Sally, friendships (mentoring relationships) create hope, happiness, healing and equally important, allow kids to be KIDS! laugh, play games, do homework, play sports, learn how to drive, buy a prom dress, learn new things from their mentor.

Children between the ages of 7-17 are welcomed to join the mentoring program free of charge.

Children under the age of 7 years are welcomed to join the Molly's Corner Book program free of charge. To sign up my child(ren) into the mentoring program, please complete the mentee application or email at

KIDSAID is a safe place for kids to help each other deal with grief and loss. It's a place to deal with feelings in an e-mail support group, to share and view artwork and stories, and for parents and kids to ask questions and find answers.

Recommended Reading
For Adults

When God Winks
Author: Squire Rushnell

Helping Your Anxious Child: A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents by Sue Spencer Healing your grieving heart for teens: 100 practical ideas by Alan D What About Kids? Understanding their needs funeral planning and Services
by the Dougy Center
What is cancer anyway? Explaining Cancer to children at all ages
by Karen L Carney
Unraveled: One Woman's Story of moving out, etc.
by Maria Housden
If I get to five: What children can teach us about courage
by Fred Epstein
Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir
by Neely Tucker
Helping Children Cope With Stress
by Avis Brenner
The Four Things That Matter Most
by Ira Byock

When a Parent has Cancer: A Guide to Caring for Your Young Children
by Wendy Harpham, M.D.
The Bereaved Parents Survival Guide!
by Juliet Rothman
A World without Cancer: The Making of a new Cure and the Real Promise of Prevention
by Margaret Cuomo

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