A cancer diagnosis is difficult for anyone to handle. Children may especially struggle when they find out a friend has the disease. They might express a range of feelings and experience fear that it could happen to them as well. Here are four ways parents can help their child deal with a friend’s cancer diagnosis.

Discuss Health and Wellness

Helping a child deal with a friend’s illness and treatment can be difficult for everyone involved. However, it also provides the opportunity to teach your child about health and wellness issues from an external perspective rather than first-hand experience. Explain that serious conditions like cancer happen to many people, often for inexplicable reasons. Illness is part of life, and while we cannot always control it, we can do our best to avoid it by lifestyle choices and to help others who are afflicted.

Offer Comfort

Be comforting and supportive to your child at this time. He or she may not fully understand a complex disease like cancer and might have several questions, fears, or uncertainties. Spend time quietly listening to the child expressing emotions and thoughts while offering words of consolation and wisdom. This experience is a good time to discuss spiritual views and implications with children with related questions.

Model Compassion

Rather than shrug off the friend’s condition as a part of life, let your own feelings of dismay, sorrow, and concern show. Your child will better understand his or her personal feelings in observing yours in response to the situation. If the ailing child displayed problematic behaviors, don’t suggest that the illness is a punishment. Encourage your son or daughter to accept the sadness and uncertainty of the friend’s illness.

Take a Proactive Approach

In addition to providing comfort and advice as well as modeling compassionate feelings, you can take an active stand against the friend’s disease by helping your son or daughter donate to a child cancer donation charity. He or she may want to make a monetary donation from savings or allowance or volunteer to help at a childhood cancer charity event. Getting involved and making a difference can be freeing and empowering for children who are learning to accept the existence of cancer but also who want to fight it through the means available to them.
Tough life lessons are hard for both parents and children. Work with your child to promote understanding and acceptance of natural diseases and disorders while also showing how to cope with it and make a difference for the future.

Author's Bio: 

Anica is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. You can connect with Anica on Twitter @AnicaOaks.