Receiving the terrible news that a family member has cancer is like an earthquake and hurricane combined. Family life is turned on its head and all focus moves to battling cancer and helping the sick family member through their treatment.
In such circumstances, a healthy child or sibling is also seriously affected but is often forgotten about. This child needs to cope with family life upheaval and personal fear as well as sometimes a sense of guilt as he/she aspires to some kind of normality, whilst someone in the house is coping with the effects of treatment.
Parents do not have the energy or personal resources to grant the healthy child normality, but friends, neighbours and family members can help. Here are three ideas…
1) When going out on a family hike or fun day, ask the child if he/she wants to join. Just getting out of the house will do the child the world of good and help the parents as they will have one less thing to worry about
2) Invite the child around to join in a meal. Parents coping with cancer often don’t have the headspace to cook, so by making an extra schnitzel you can ensure that the child is well fed and happy.
3) Offer to take the child to school or bring the child home. Often a child will have to make their own way to school so this will make life a little easier.
For cancer coping families these small acts of kindness can go a long way.
In 2008 I was a founding member of Jeremy’s Circle, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing community, support and fun activities to families coping with cancer.
Jeremy’s Circle was named after Jeremy Coleman who passed away after suffering from cancer in 2008. During Jeremy’s illness, before he sadly passed away, I was amongst a group of family friends who would take Jeremy’s children out on fun day trips and other activities. Spending “fun time” away from the house was great for Jeremy’s three children as it gave them a sense of normality in an environment where everyone knew the situation so they could feel totally comfortable. It also gave Jeremy and his wife Pamela time to be together and to focus on dealing with the challenges of coping with cancer.
Jeremy’s Circle Board Member
This article first appeared in Linkedin at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/helping-family-through-cancer-inspiration-behind-jeremys-album/