Resources to talk to a child or teen about cancer

Looking for advice on how to talk with children about a friend or loved one diagnosed with Cancer?  In this article you will find tips, guides, and books on how to handle this complex and emotional topic.

Support Groups:


Friends In Deed (The Crisis Center for Life-Threatening Illnesses) 

594 Broadway Suite 706, NY, NY


what one parent writes: "The Cancer Focus Group is on Thursdays at 5:30-6:30pm, but they recommend that first-time attendees go to the Tuesday evening general group from 7-8:30pm first before going to the focused groups. The Big Group Tuesday (7:00pm to 8:30pm). The power and uniqueness of this Tuesday night meeting is its diversity. We invite everyone to come together in the same room, whether you're living with HIV, cancer or another critical illness… overwhelmed with grief… or facing the challenges of caregiving. Something extraordinary happens when we discover that we're part of something bigger than our individual circumstances. In this meeting, the original Big Group, we learn that no matter how challenging our circumstances, most of us can handle life moment to moment. Recommended for first-time attendees.  The Big Group: Cancer Focus Thursday (5:30pm to 6:30pm) When diagnosed with cancer, it's not uncommon to experience a period of shock and confusion. After the initial period of shock subsides, we begin to discover that we are not defined by our illness. No matter where you are on your journey with cancer, this group demonstrates how you can handle life moment to moment."


Gilda's Club


Their website describes their services as: "Gilda’s Club New York City creates welcoming communities of free support for everyone living with cancer – men, women, teens and children – along with their families and friends. Our innovative program is an essential complement to medical care, providing networking and support groups, workshops, lectures and social activities, all free of charge."


Cancer Care


one mother describes: "they have immediate phone counseling, online groups, and in-person support groups in Midtown NYC)."


The Colon Cancer Alliance


one parent's tip: offers some online support groups as well."


American Cancer Society's Brooklyn office

contact: (718)-237-7850)

"they will know about all local Brooklyn options and psychotherapists." 


American Childhood Cancer Organization


ACCO is one of the largest grassroots, national organizations dedicated to improving the lives of children and adolescents with cancer and their families.


From the American Cancer Society


The American Cancer Society has a series of six documents dedicated to the topic. Covering a range of issues, their series titled “Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer” is all available to download for free online:


Dealing With Diagnosis (pdf)

Dealing With Treatment (pdf)

Dealing With Recurring or Progressive Illness (pdf)

Understanding Psychosocial Support Services (pdf)

Dealing With a Parent’s Terminal Illness (pdf)

Cancer in Our Family: Helping Children Cope with a Parent’s Illness (book by the American Cancer Society)


Relevant Articles and Documents:

When Mom Has Cancer: Helping Children Cope (via

Helping Children When A Family Member Has Cancer (pdf, via Cancer Care)

Helping Children Understand Cancer: Talking to Kids About Your Diagnosis (pdf fact sheet via Cancer Care)

Explaining Cancer to Kids (articles via The Gathering Place, an organization for those touched by cancer)

The Marie Curie organization based out of the UK has a booklet specially designed to help children when someone close to them is very sick.

Helping Kids Cope In Parent’s Illness (via Washington Post)

The Mesothelioma Group just published a very informative guide to understanding cancer with guides for veterans, students and seniors as well

Resources specifically FOR Children whose family member or parent has Cancer:


Booklets FOR KIDS:


When Your Parent Has Cancer – A Guide For Teens (pdf, via the National Cancer Institute)

Kemo Shark – a comic book for kids with activities that deal with the emotions of their parent’s cancer (via Kidscope)


Websites specifically FOR KIDS:

Kids Konnected is a website for kids aged between 5 and 18 who have a parent diagnosed with cancer. It is for kids to help each other. The site is also separated by both a kids and a teenagers section.


Books specifically FOR KIDS:

Let My Colors Out

The Invisible String

Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo Boo

Mommy Has to Stay in Bed

Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy

Metu and Lee Learn About Breast Cancer

Because… Someone I Know Has Cancer


Books for Pre Teens:


Our Family Has Cancer, Too!


Books for Teens:

Both Sides Now – a mother/daughter story about how cancer impacted their relationship


The Charlie Brown Movie 

Why Charlie Brown, Why?


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