The diagnosis of cancer catastrophically affects all members of the family. Siblings can be overlooked in the early months when the parents are spending most of their time caring for the ill child at the hospital, clinic, or in the home. Many siblings keep their feelings bottled up inside to prevent placing additional burdens on their distraught parents. Often, the place where siblings act out the most is at school. It is common for siblings to withdraw or become disruptive in the classroom, cry easily, become frustrated, fall behind in classwork, bring home failing grades, cut classes, become rebellious toward authority, or have fistfights with classmates.
You should send a letter to each siblings school principal, requesting that the principal alert teachers, counselors, and nurses about the cancer diagnosis in the family and ask for their help and support for the siblings.
Lindsey was in kindergarten when Jesse was first diagnosed. Because we heard nothing from the kindergarten teacher, we assumed that things were going well. At the end of the year, the teacher told us that Lindsey frequently spent part of each day hiding under her desk. When I asked why we had never been told, the teacher said she thought that we already had enough to worry about dealing with Jesse's illness and treatment. She was wrong to make decisions for us, but I wish we had been more attentive. Lindsey needed help.
If possible, try to include the siblings' teachers in all conferences at school. If the siblings' teachers are in different schools, or if the siblings have several teachers (e.g., in middle school and high school), ask the principal to send a school representative. Teachers of siblings need to be aware of the stresses facing the family and to understand that feelings may bubble to the surface in their classroom. It is essential that parents advocate for the healthy child's emotional and educational needs as well as those of their sick child. Chapter 16, Siblings, deals exclusively with siblings and contains suggestions for coping.
Was this article helpful?
Learning About 10 Ways Fight Off Cancer Can Have Amazing Benefits For Your Life The Best Tips On How To Keep This Killer At Bay Discovering that you or a loved one has cancer can be utterly terrifying. All the same, once you comprehend the causes of cancer and learn how to reverse those causes, you or your loved one may have more than a fighting chance of beating out cancer.