With something as shocking and momentous as a child cancer diagnosis, friends often simply do not know what to say. They may be frightened of saying the wrong thing and causing more upset or they may find the whole situation just too upsetting. However, to say nothing at all will only make things worse for a family already devastated by the news. You cannot go wrong with the simple words, whether in person or via a text message: “I’m so sorry to hear this. I am here for you.” It will mean a lot.
Bring food to the hospital or home
Immediately following a cancer diagnosis, the child will have a prolonged period in hospital while they begin chemotherapy treatment, which may then be followed by treatment at home with intermittent care in hospital. Parents will often take turns staying with the child while caring for other siblings at home. It is a time of chaos and stress.
Our son Isaac was six weeks old when Yasmin was diagnosed at the age of two and we would not have managed without the support of both grandmothers who moved into our home for a short period of time. Early on, one friend cooked a batch of fresh-home cooked meals and dropped them at our home so that we would have something tasty and healthy to eat in among all the ready-meals, chocolate, crisps and hospital food. This was hugely appreciated and not something I would have felt able to ask somebody to do at the time.