You’ve Just Learned That Your Brother or Sister Has Cancer


You’ve just learned that your brother or sister has cancer. You may have a lot of emotions—feeling numb, afraid, lonely, or angry. One thing is certain—you don’t feel good.

“This  is so unreal. I thought only old people got really sick— not little kids. My brother Jason has cancer, and he is only 10 years old. We found out last week, and it hasn’t even sunk in yet. I wake up every morning thinking this is just a bad dream.” Liza, age 15

For now, try to focus on these facts:

Many kids survive cancer.

You have good reason to be hopeful that your brother or sister will get better. Today, as many as 8 in 10 kids diagnosed with cancer survive their illness. Many go on to live normal lives. That’s because scientists are discovering new and better ways to find and treat cancer.

You’re not alone.

Right now it might seem like no one else in the world feels the way you do. In a way you’re right. No one can feel exactly like you do. But it might help to know that there are other kids who have a brother or sister with cancer. Talking to others may help you sort out your feelings.

Remember, you are not alone.

You’re not to blame.

Cancer is a disease with many causes, many of which doctors don’t fully understand. But your brother or sister did not get cancer because of anything you did, thought, or said.

You can’t protect, but you can give comfort.

Sometimes you’ll be strong for your brother or sister, and sometimes your brother or sister will be strong for you. It’s okay to talk about how hard it is and even cry together.

Knowledge is power.

It can help to learn more about cancer and cancer treatments. Sometimes what you imagine is actually worse than the reality.

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