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Resources

My sibling has cancer

When your brother or sister is diagnosed with cancer, the world can suddenly become a very different place. Lots of things may change and you probably feel worried about your sibling, and maybe your family and yourself too.


It’s normal to have lots of questions.

Asking questions is a good thing! You might have a lot of questions you want to ask, like:

  • Will I get cancer too?
  • What is cancer?
  • What is chemotherapy?
  • What will happen now?

Who can I ask?

You can talk to your parents, carers and family members like grandparents. If you’re visiting the hospital, there’s a social worker there who you can ask too. You can also talk to us and we’ll do our best to answer your questions. If you’re under 14, we’ll need to make sure your parent or carer is okay for us to speak with you.

There aren’t always answers to questions though, or sometimes the answers are hard. You can also talk to your parents, carers and family, the social worker at hospital or us if you’re having a hard time.

Feelings & emotions

When your brother or sister has cancer, there’s lot of different things you might feel

Sad that there are lots of changes

Angry or jealous when you can’t spend time with Mum and Dad

Scared about what will happen

Happy when you can see your brother or sister

Sometimes, you might not be sure what you’re feeling


Just in case this is something you’re worried about: you didn’t cause this and are in no way to blame. Sometimes people think something they said or did caused something bad to happen. But cancer just happens. It is awful, but it’s no one’s fault. 


There’s a good chance that while your sister or brother is getting treatment you’re not going to see as much of your parents as usual. They might also seem stressed, scared, tired or even angry. This is understandable, but it can be tough for you.

Even though they may seem preoccupied, you can still talk to them about how you’re feeling, as they will still be concerned about how you’re managing. If you need extra help about what to say, you can talk to counsellors at:

There’s a lot you can do to support your sibling. No matter what kind of relationship you have with them at the moment, there’s a good chance they’re going to appreciate you being around. 

They might look different while they’re going through treatment, but treating them the same as always is important. That said, be understanding if they’re feeling tired and unwell, as their treatment might mean they’re low on energy or are in pain sometimes.

“It was a big shock to my family, especially for my brother and sister, who had never experienced anyone in the family going into hospital,” says Rabia. “During treatment, I sort of became the youngest because they would always be watching over me and looking after me.”

There’s a lot you can do to support your sibling. No matter what kind of relationship you have with them at the moment, there’s a good chance they’re going to appreciate you being around. 

They might look different while they’re going through treatment, but treating them the same as always is important. That said, be understanding if they’re feeling tired and unwell, as their treatment might mean they’re low on energy or are in pain sometimes.

“It was a big shock to my family, especially for my brother and sister, who had never experienced anyone in the family going into hospital,” says Rabia. “During treatment, I sort of became the youngest because they would always be watching over me and looking after me.”

 

Just because your brother or sister has cancer doesn’t mean you have to stop being yourself. While life may change in many ways, it can help to try to keep doing some of your regular activities. Don’t feel guilty about getting on with life, they’ll understand. And remember, it really is okay to laugh sometimes. 

It was a big shock to my family, especially for my brother and sister, who had never experienced anyone in the family going into hospital. During treatment, I sort of became the youngest because they would always be watching over me and looking after me.
Rabia

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