When a child is diagnosed with cancer, life is forever changed. Families face many challenges, including uncertainty, restrictions or disruptions in their daily life, increased psychological stress, lengthy and rigorous treatment regimens, and multiple losses.
For siblings of children with cancer, coping with these new challenges can be particularly stressful, especially during periods when their brother or sister is hospitalized or very ill. Siblings are often confused and disoriented by a range of emotions that erupt at various points throughout the cancer journey. Depending on the situation, these emotions of sadness, joy, jealousy, fear, anger, and anxiety. Depending on their age, they may not be able to articulate these emotions with ease. And sometimes, when asked, they may even deny these emotions exist. They may not want to burden their parent with their troubles or they simply may not understand the emotions as they present themselves. Even with the best possible support from family and friends, siblings may experience a loss of the family way of life and/or a loss of self within the family. It is a confusing and stressful time that may last throughout treatment and even well into survivorship.
Children’s Cancer Network is committed to family-centered care which is essential for each member of the family battling childhood cancer. Intentional focus on each individual member of the family is important as well. For siblings, Children’s Cancer Network is pleased to offer an internationally recognized program by the name of Sibshops.
According to the Sibling Support Project, Sibshops provide young brothers and sister peer support and information in a lively, recreational setting. For the adults who run them and for the agencies that sponsor them, Sibshops are evidence of their loving concern for the family member who will have the longest-lasting relationship with a person who has a disability. However, for the kids who attend them, Sibshops are lively, pedal-to-the-metal events where they will:
- Meet other siblings
- Have fun
- Talk about the good and not-so-good parts of having a sib with special needs with others who “get it”
- Play some great games
- Learn how other brother and sisters handle sticky situations sometimes faced by brothers and sisters
- Learn about the services their brothers and sister receive
- Have some more fun
Children’s Cancer Network is pleased to offer Sibshops specifically for siblings of children with childhood cancer throughout the year.
For specific questions about the All Star Sibling Programs and Sibshops, contact Children’s Cancer Network at info@childrenscancernetwork.