• Family Connections

    Information for parents with cancer

    The Family Connections Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center provides support and information to parents diagnosed with cancer.

    The information in this section includes topics of concern to parents facing a cancer diagnosis. It was developed with input from parents and children who have already faced this challenge, as well as health care professionals who work with these families. We hope it will help you learn how others have faced this situation so you can decide what is best for your family.

    Talking with children about cancer

    Now that you have been diagnosed with cancer, you probably have many questions about sharing this information with your children. This section will help you learn how others have faced this situation so you can decide what is best for your family.

    What children want to know

    Most children will need to have some basic information about cancer and its treatment. Here's you'll find general areas to cover with them over the course of diagnosis and treatment, and guidelines on how to share this information.

    How to explain treatment

    Guidance on what to say about your treatment, how treatment may change your family's day-to-day life, and how to talk to your children about it all.

    How to help children cope

    Children also have to cope with changes and worries when a parent is diagnosed with cancer. Review some suggestions on how to help them manage.

    Stress warning signs in children

    How can you tell when your children are really struggling to cope with your illness? And what can you do if you suspect they're feeling stressed? Find general guidelines for determining when your children need extra support and how to provide it.

    Talking with your child's school

    Both you and your children can benefit from good two-way communication with school personnel. This section offers advice on how to start this important conversation, and identifies what information teachers need to know to support your children.

    For the well partner

    You are deeply affected when your partner is diagnosed with cancer. In addition to your worry and concern, you often have additional emotional and practical responsibilities within the family. This section helps you to anticipate what to expect at this difficult time and offers suggestions for coping.

    After treatment ends

    When treatment is over, your family's situation changes yet again; getting back to normal takes time. Find tips on how to anticipate and cope with challenges.

    Questions parents often ask

    Included in this section are questions other parents have asked ("What if I get upset when I talk to my child?") as well as questions that their children have asked ("Are you going to die?"). This section offers some suggestions to help you figure out what you want to say and do.

    Medical terms made easy

    This link provides simple, clear definitions for many of terms you and your family may hear during your diagnosis and treatment.

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