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Caring for a child who has cancer, and the siblings who do not

Aliya Hafeez, MD

Aliya Hafeez, MD

Psychiatrist Aliya Hafeez, MD answers a question with which many parents grapple after one child is diagnosed with cancer...

Q: My middle child has been diagnosed with leukemia, so much of my energy is focused on her treatment. What can I do so I don't lose touch with my older and younger daughters during this time? They are 16, 10 and 3.

A: A good place to begin would be to ask your daughters how they feel that their sister is sick. Also ask them how they feel about all your attention and energy going into caring for her.

Offer to spend some time individually with each of your other children along with your sick daughter. That way maybe they can become your little helper in taking care of her.

If time allows maybe a date night with each individual child would be helpful in reconnecting you both.

Aliya Hafeez, MD, is the chief psycho-oncologist at the Upstate Cancer Center and a cancer survivor. Reach her at 315-464-3615.

This article appears in the summer 2015 issue of Cancer Care magazine.