Talking to Kids About Cancer

Cancer doesn’t just affect the individual who receives the diagnosis. It impacts the entire family, especially children and teens. Effective communication during this time helps children develop the coping skills they’ll need throughout this challenging time.

The following are 3 useful tips for talking to kids about cancer:

  1. Allow the child to express their feelings – Create a “safe space” where children can feel comfortable sharing their feelings and know that you are listening. An effective way to help children express themselves is to ask open-ended questions. Also, listen to them rather than do all the talking, but don’t force them to share their feelings. They will do this when they feel ready.
  2. Be honest and thoughtful – Answer their questions simply and honestly, and don’t be afraid to use the word cancer.
  3. Let children know what to expect: Let them know that they may feel a mix of emotions — angry, sad, scared and confused – and that it’s ok. Children need to know that their routines will likely change. There may be other people stepping in to take care of them or more visitors in the house

Gilda’s Club Westchester offers the area’s only ongoing support for children and teen who are affected by cancer (their own diagnosis, that of a loved one, or the loss of a loved one) through age-appropriate support groups, individual counseling sessions, social events, camps, and workshops. The Children, Teens and Families Program (CTF) is designed to be a place for children and teens to learn, have fun, care and share, while being supported by our professional staff and trained volunteers. For more information contact Jamie Aker at, visit our website or call us at (914)-644-8844.

Save the Date for the 10th Annual Cancer in the Classroom Symposium on Wednesday, February 2 from 9 AM to 1 PM via Zoom. This is a free workshop for school professionals, featuring important information and tools for supporting students and families impacted by cancer.  For more information on Cancer in the Classroom Symposium, download our program flyer, or contact our Children, Teens, and Families Manager, Jaime Aker at To register please visit our online registration.