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information for children when parent has cancer

  • 1.  information for children when parent has cancer

    Posted 02-20-2019 20:34

    Looking for resources that anyone has used to help children understand about cancer when a parent has it. Thanks

  • 2.  RE: information for children when parent has cancer

    Posted 02-21-2019 06:50
    Hi Judy,
    Gilda's club has a great book on telling kids their parents have cancer. We also have had family meetings where just one doctor and a social worker sit down with the family to help share the news. We sometimes reach out to our child life specialist to aid in this discussion if the kids are particularly young.
    We also give the family as much information as we can on different support groups and resources.

    Mary D. Molloy MSN, RN, OCN
    Patient Care Manager, Heme/Onc
    Northwestern Memorial Hospital
    Chicago, IL

  • 3.  RE: information for children when parent has cancer

    Posted 02-21-2019 07:52
    Hi Judy,

    All of my patients have brain tumors, some primary and others metastatic. I have an activity book for children of parents with cancer called "Talking with my Treehouse Friends about Cancer​". This is a very nice way of working with Kids. It was from Bristol-Myers.( Published by Fulcrum Another resource I use is "Helping your Children Cope with your Cancer" A guide for parents by Peter va Dernoot - Hatherleigh Press  He works with the Children's Treehouse Foundation, which you can find on line.  I use American Brain Tumor Association  for resources. Hope this helps some Sandy

    Sandra Remer, RN
    Neuro-Oncology Coordinator
    Henry Ford Health System
    West Bloomfield, MI

  • 4.  RE: information for children when parent has cancer

    Posted 02-21-2019 08:01

    These are for parents:

    "How to Help Children Through a Parent's Serious Illness: supportive, practical advice from a leading child life speacialist" by Kathleen McCue

    "A Tiny Boat at Sea: How to help children who have a parent diagnosed with Cancer" by Izetta Smith


    And then for kids:

    "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn

    "When Someone Has a Very Serious Illness" by Marge Heegaard



    Jessica Cross, BSN RN
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  • 5.  RE: information for children when parent has cancer

    Posted 05-20-2019 14:14
    ​Hi, Judy,

    Here are some of the resources that I've used.  Hope they are helpful.
    * What's Up with Richard?  Medikidz Explain Leukemia (32 pages)  Medikidz are larger-than-life superheroes who live in Mediland, a living virtual world with the human body.

    * What's Up with Bridget's Mom?: Medikidz Explain Breast Cancer.

    * The Hope Tree:  Kids Talk About Breast Cancer by Numeroff & Harpham.  (Animal characters in an imaginary support group are used to provide insights and advice in a comforting format.)

    *  Mom's Cancer by Brian Fies.  Graphic novel (cartoon form) of one family's experience with a mom's metastatic lung cancer.  Teens may find it helpful to see they are not the only ones affects by cancer.

    * Barklay and Eve: What IS Cancer Anyway? by Karen L. Carney  (Two Portuguese water dogs of the nurse author help explain cancer to young children.)

    * A Mom of Many Hats by Fink and Hane.  Colorful book for children who parent is having chemotherapy and develops alopecia.  Their website have ideas, resources and child-friendly activities.

    *My Book About Cancer: A Workbook to Help Children Deal with the Diagnosis and Treatment of a Father/Mother with Cancer.  These two books are available through ONS and are great interactive books.

    ** My all-time favorite book to use when I work with children and family is my office is "Because ...Someone I Love Has Cancer by the American Cancer Society.  The first 16 pages can be used by nurses or adult family members when working with the children.  I like each of the activities but the two I use the most are:

    "Changes in My Home" (page 7) is the outline of a house.  I have them draw a picture of their family at home before mom or dad got sick then draw a picture of their family at home after the parents got diagnosed.  This one can be eye-opening.  One children drew a picture of everyone in the kitchen before mom got sick - cooking, eating, doing homework...After mom got sick, the little girl was upstairs in her bedroom crying as she tried to brush her hair herself, mom was in another bedroom sleeping, dad was not home, and the two brothers were downstairs fighting.  (This was very powerful to these parents who had been hesitant to have their children come meet with me, saying their kids were 'doing fine.')

    "T-Shirt Message" (page 37) where each family member is given an outline of a t-shirt and they put their family slogan on it of how their family is going to cope with cancer.  Even the youngest child enjoys this one.  I have each person afterwards explain their t-shirt design.  Most family take them home and hang them on the refrigerator to remind each other of how they can get through the cancer journey together.

    ***when I do these activities, I always make sure to make time for the debriefing afterwards. That is where the parents get the 'ah-ha' moment of how this is affecting their children.

    Cancer truly is something that affects the entire family.  Unfortunately, many times the children are 'protected' and not told what is happening.  I believe we nurses can gently help the parents begin the conversation with their children.

    Pat Nishimoto
    Adult Oncology CNS

    Patricia Nishimoto RN BSN MPH DNS
    Adult Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist
    Honolulu HI

  • 6.  RE: information for children when parent has cancer

    Posted 02-21-2019 08:52

    A couple suggestions:


    For teens – When your parent has cancer from the NCI


    For children ages 2-6 – this book is customizable based on parent/grandparent and type of treatment they are getting -


    The American Cancer Society also has a booklet called "It helps to have friends," plus information online.


    Regina Carlisle, BSN, RN, OCN

    Senior Cancer Information Nurse

    Office of Patient and Public Education

    University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center


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