Living with children's cancer

Helping your child to lead a normal and happy life

After learning of your child’s cancer diagnosis, you might wonder how your child’s life will change. It will certainly be different, but you will play the most important role in helping them enjoy life during cancer treatment.

Children live in the ‘here and now’ and will want to play and participate in activities as usual. This makes them incredibly resilient during a serious illness.

To support this resilience:

  • understand your child's specific needs, as these change during treatment
  • stick to normal routines and set your usual boundaries
  • provide comfort and make them feel secure and optimistic. 

Try to help your child to live a normal and as happy a life as possible during their cancer treatment. When they feel well enough, encourage them to do their normal activities, including going to school or day care. This means that they don’t miss out on as much school. They also spend time with their friends, which does help make them feel like life is more normal.

You might worry that going to school and playing with other children is too risky for your child. You might think they are better off staying in hospital or at home. Your child’s oncologist will tell you when they should avoid certain activities, and what to look out for, such as risk factors and signs of an infection. This will help make sure your child can safely take part in activities with other children. Your treatment team will also let you know how you can help your child stay healthy. You should also pass this information on to your child’s teachers and carers, as it is important to keep them informed along the way.

Many hospitals provide age-specific education for teachers and carers. Most paediatric treatment centres also have an educational psychologist, counsellor or school liaison officer who can talk to your child’s school, so they can better understand what your child is going through and how they can best support them.