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How to support the family of a child with cancer

Resources

How to support the family of a child with cancer

Redkite is here to help you support families facing childhood cancer in the ways they need it most.

It can be hard to know how to support the family of a child with cancer. We often worry about saying the wrong thing, intruding or being insensitive, which can sometimes lead to not offering support at all. When a family is facing childhood cancer, offering the right help, at the right time makes all the difference.

Help with the small tasks makes a big difference

When a family hears that their child has cancer, their world is instantly turned upside-down. Parents are often told they need to go to the hospital immediately and may not come home for weeks or months at a time. There is no time to organise the household or prepare other family members.

Parents will often be separated from each other, with one giving up work partially or entirely to stay with their child in hospital, and one who continues to work and takes care of siblings and the responsibilities at home. This can be especially difficult in single-parent families.

From the moment of diagnosis their priorities will shift, and their focus will remain on caring for their sick child. This leaves little room for the day-to-day tasks of walking the dog, packing lunches, and taking out the bins.  Facing childhood cancer is as new to parents as it is to the people supporting them, so it’s helpful to take the lead and offer support with those day-to-day tasks, allowing families to focus on the care of their child.

Need more ideas? Download our list of 30 practical tasks you can do to help.

Download

Try to think beyond your usual ways of offering support

When we don’t know the specific needs of a family, we often try to support them by cooking a meal. This of course can be helpful when coordinated correctly, but a fridge full of food will only last a short period of time and does not cover all the different things a family needs help with when they’re caring for a child with cancer.

Not knowing how to best lend a hand can lead to offers of, ’let me know what I can do to help’’, which unfortunately puts the responsibility back on the parent and adds more work onto their already overwhelming list of things to do. Asking for help can be hard, so it’s likely they may never reach out to you at all.

Don’t worry, this is a common problem for everyone. Asking for help and accepting help are learned skills that require practice, so it’s ok if you don’t know what you should be doing or what the right thing to do is. Researching and looking for information from organisations such as Redkite, who can help you provide the right type of support, is a great start.

Lean on the expertise of specialists in childhood cancer support

For almost 40 years, Redkite has been there for families facing childhood cancer. Our support team are childhood cancer support specialists, who can connect you with the information and tools you need to support families in the ways they need it most. We’re here for families to lean on throughout their cancer experience, and we’re here for you too.

You don’t have to do it alone

There are often many people surrounding a family who want to help. From extended family members, and close friends, to people in their wider social network such as school or faith communities. If you’re someone close to the parents, you may be a great person to take the lead and coordinate the group of helpers surrounding them. And if you’re someone who’s ready to provide support, we suggest getting in touch with other members of a family’s support network to see how you can assist.

For a list of actionable tasks you can do to support the family of a child with cancer, download our free resource below. It includes specific and useful ways you can provide the right kind of help at the right time.

Download our list of 30 practical things you can do to help the family of a child with cancer.

Download

Did you know…

Redkite provides emotional and practical support to anyone connected to a child with cancer, including grandparents, extended family, and friends.

Cancer is hard. Getting help doesn’t have to be. Contact us using the details below.

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We’re ready to help. Please call us on 1800 REDKITE (Mon – Fri 9am – 7pm AEST), or fill out the form below.

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