Is there any support of the siblings?

Author:  Dr. med Gesche Riabowol (née Tallen), Editor:  Maria Yiallouros, Reviewer:  Prof. Dr. med. U. Creutzig, English Translation:  Hannah McRae, Last modification: 2024/04/19


Foto: Wiebke Peitz I Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Siblings of children and teenagers with cancer need special attention, since their parents are often pre-occupied with the sick child for an extended time. This is relevant to both, a sibling's development as well as the overall family dynamics.

When a child is in the hospital, usually one parent stays with her/him, thus being away from home and unavailable to the rest of the family. Even at home, however, a young cancer patient still needs intensive care and lots of attention, which proves to be yet another difficult situation for the family, at least at the beginning of treatment.

Siblings must cope with the threat of their brother’s or sister’s life-threatening disease. This is an emotionally complex and hard situation, no matter, how old a sibling is. Siblings may feel pushed aside or less important, they must deal with being left alone more frequently, suddenly having to take on more responsibility than before, they may feel envious or jealous of all the attention their sister or brother is getting now, and, as a consequence, even guilty or scared. After all, as most children do, they may feel as though they have an obligation to protect their parents.

A child's cancer is a stressful situation for the whole family. The psychosocial team of the clinic or later the aftercare facility provides advice and support to patients and their relatives from diagnosis to completion of treatment as well as during aftercare. Don't hesitate to take advantage of this offer. It is an integral part of the treatment concept of all paediatric oncology centres in many countries. Here you will find comprehensive information on this.