Coping with Cancer: The Collateral Effects on Children, Family, & Friends

A cancer diagnosis impacts you and your whole family. It is common to be worried about the effect this will have on the people around you. It is normal to be concerned about what changes this diagnosis will bring. The way you communicate with your loved ones during this difficult time is crucial. As much as you are wondering how to properly support them, they will be thinking about how to best support you. As your loved ones adjust to the situation, your worries about the impact of a cancer diagnosis on them will decrease.

Your Changing Role

Cancer treatment can make you go from the primary care provider to the person being cared for. It can be difficult to protect your children and loved ones from your worries and fears during this difficult time. Finances and work-life are also adding stress to your family during this time. The best way to cope with these big life changes is to find someone to speak to. The extra support can help you better manage your stress and take care of your family while taking care of yourself.

Leading The Difficult Conversations

As much as possible, keep connected with your family and friends. Being honest about what you are feeling and ask them to do the same. People will be nervous to tell you how they really feel out of fear of being insensitive or ‘wrong’. Tell them how you want to receive support and let them know it is okay to ask for questions throughout the process. When you can encourage this kind of dialogue, it will relieve their stress and yours.

How To Talk To Your Children

Children will mimic the reactions of their parents to events and situations that are new. How your child processes your cancer diagnosis will very much depend on how you and/or your partner are dealing with it. When talking to your child, explain the facts and allow them to participate in what is happening. Let them take the lead and ask questions. Do not downplay their concerns and worries, but speak in simple language and allow them to cope with this difficult situation.

Be aware of:

  • Changes in his or her sleeping patterns;
  • A sudden drop in grades or misbehavior at school;
  • Frequent fighting with friends or family;
  • Emotional withdrawal.

These may be signs your child could benefit from help from a mental health professional.

Where To Get Support

Support groups, workshops, participating in family counseling, and retreats can be very helpful. Your health care team should be able to provide you with local resources, as well as additional options.

Visit for a free online support community or to connect with a licensed mental health professionals, as well as read different blog articles to learn more about the effects of therapy on cancer patients. 

Online Resources For Information & Support

  • American Cancer Society
    800-227-2345 /
  • CancerCare
    800-813-4673 /
    888-651-3038 /
  • Caregiver Action Network
    855-227-3640 / www.caregiverž
  • Livestrong Foundation
    866-673-7205 / www.livestrong.žorgž
  • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
    888-644-6226 /
  • National Cancer Institute
    800-422-6237 /
  • Patient Advocate Foundation
    800-532-5274 /

Cancer Support Community Resources → Additional Cancer Support Resources

Check out the following articles from our blog on how to cope with cancer and its many side effects:

● How People With Cancer Benefit From Online Therapy

● What is Holistic Therapy?

● How to Sleep Better At Night: 10 Tips That Actually Work

● Best Therapist-Finder Resources

● How to Effectively Relieve Stress: 10 Strategies That Will Help You Calm Your Body & Mind

We hope that this pamphlet was informative and helpful. Cancer can be very difficult to cope with, but you are not alone. We at Mental Treat are here to support you and hope you get all the help you need. In the meantime, take care, and be well.


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