For grandparents and other relatives

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Feelings and fears

If you have just found out that your grandchild, niece, nephew or other close family relative has cancer, you are probably feeling shocked and devastated. The news can be very difficult to come to terms with, and you may be struggling to understand what the future holds for the child you love and how this will affect the rest of your family. You might feel numb and not believe what is happening. These painful emotions of anger, sadness, guilt, fear and denial are all common, and are normal feelings of relatives of a child with cancer.

Talk to people and stay up to date

If you are a grandparent of a child with cancer, you will be concerned not only for your grandchild but also for your son or daughter. Your role in the family might change quite a lot, and you might feel lost or upset. If you are feeling this way, it is important to talk to those around you so that they understand what is happening. They can give you up-to-date and accurate information, and include you in hospital visits and care, if possible.

What can you do to help?

Sometimes it can be hard to know how to help someone when their child has been diagnosed with cancer. You might not know what to say, or feel that you are getting in the way. Don’t be surprised if your offers of assistance are initially knocked back. There are some things that the parents of a child with cancer want and need to do for themselves, but there are many other things they will welcome from you. Offering something specific is better than saying, ‘If there’s anything I can do...’ Don’t wait for them to call you – call them.

The Paediatric Integrated Cancer Service has a good list of suggestions about the type of help you could offer.

published: Sunday, 23 August, 2015