Kids whose parents/carers or siblings have cancer

When you hear mention of ‘kids affected by cancer’ or ‘young people living with cancer’ you might think only of kids who have cancer themselves. But kids who don’t have cancer are affected by people close to them who do.
They are affected; they live with cancer, not in themselves, but in someone close.
If a close relative or friend, and particularly someone they live with has cancer, then the chances are high that the young person is impacted in some way.
Kids in this situation can easily be overlooked, just as we previously discussed in this column when the topic was kids whose parent/carer has a mental illness.
The family focus of care and concern is naturally on the person with this major health problem. Family relationships can shift and change. Feelings about the situation can vary widely, and might include feeling embarrassed or neglected. It can be awkward to know what to tell friends and whether they should come over.
CanTeen have always catered for kids who themselves have cancer, and have just launched a new website specifically for young people affected by cancer in someone else. It includes 7-day access to professional CanTeen counsellors and 24/7 access to youth-specific information.
There is also an online community where young people can connect with peers in similar situations and share their cancer experiences through blogs, forums and testimonials. 
All of us feel more understood and supported when we know we are not alone in difficult times.
Find the website at and hear an interview about the new service at
If as a parent/carer you or one of your children are having cancer treatment you could talk to your cancer care nurse or other health professional about how your children are affected and what other support is available for them.
Martin Graham
School Counsellor