My child has cancer

When your child is diagnosed with cancer it propels you into a confusing world. But the challenges you face each day, supporting a child with cancer, are easier with the right advice and information. That’s where we come in.

Introducing Young Lives vs Cancer. Your go-to place for the support you might need. We’ll help you find the answers to any questions you might have about your child’s diagnosis. If you ever want to know more, speak to our team of social care professionals on 0300 303 5220, chat to us in the bottom right of this page or email us

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Jump straight to support

My child’s cancer

Find out more about your child's cancer and treatment.

Taking my child to hospital

What to expect from your child's place of treatment.

Your emotional health as a parent

Here's how to look after your own wellbeing.

Money when my child has cancer

Help with benefits, grants and the costs of cancer.

Family and relationships

Those around you can provide valuable support.

My child’s education

Your child's education when they have cancer.

If your child has just been diagnosed

Nothing can fully prepare you for hearing your child has cancer. They will need you more than ever. But you also need to make sure you take care of yourself.

Understanding what is going to happen next can help make you feel more in control. We have lots of advice on things like how to talk to your child, questions to ask and practical stuff like managing money here.

Understanding their diagnosis

The first thing you should do is speak to your child’s care team. Ask as many questions as you want. Do not be afraid to ask people to repeat things.

If you decide to search for information online, be careful about what sites you use. We have advice on which sites to visit, plus more information on cancer types, tests and treatments here.

What to ask the doctor

You are going to have lots of questions for your child’s doctor. It can help to write them down to make sure you do not forget anything. There might be some questions your child wants you to ask for them. There might be some questions you do not want to ask in front of your child.

What questions you ask, and when, is up to you. But here are some of the things you might want to talk about:

  • What treatment will they need?
  • How long will it take?
  • What are the risks?
  • What are the benefits?
  • Are there other options?
  • What side effects can we expect?
  • What changes do I need to make at home?
  • How can I prevent infection?
  • Will they have to stay in the hospital?

Get more detailed advice on finding out about your child’s treatment here.

What to say to your child

How much you tell your child about their cancer will depend on how old they are and their personality. But you will need to get them ready for things like treatment or hospital stays.

They may already know something is going on. They may want to know more but be scared to ask. They might be worried about upsetting you.

Asking them what they think is going on can be a good place to start. Let them ask any questions they have. Try to use words they will understand. It can help to plan some answers to questions you think they might have.

You might need to reassure your child they have not done anything wrong and that other people cannot ‘catch’ their cancer.

Get more advice on telling your child they have cancer here.

Next steps

Once you understand more about your child’s cancer and treatment you can start to focus on next steps.

It can help to get to know the hospital your child will be treated in and their care team. More advice on planning for a hospital stay, including how to prepare your child, is available here.

If your child goes to school, you will need to contact them. We have advice on talking to your child’s school here.

You might need to talk to your boss about taking time off. You might also want to find out what financial support you can get. Our Help with Money page has information on some of the support available.

If you have other children, you might need to sort out childcare. You will also need to think about how you can help them cope. We have more information on how to care for brothers and sisters when your child has cancer here.