My brother or sister has cancer

Finding out your brother or sister has cancer will send a massive shockwave through both your lives. Being a sibling is tough - it means you might feel a bit sidelined or out of the loop. Your parents or sibling might be at the centre of everything, but that doesn't mean that you can't play a valuable role - plus get the care and support you need to cope with this too.

How is my life going to change?

Will they be able to stay at home while they have treatment?

It depends on their personal plan of action. If your brother or sister is treated in their local hospital and can go in and out for treatment, life might carry on fairly normally day to day.

The chances are they will need to stay in hospital for periods of time. They will probably go to a specialist treatment centre for young people. These are often far away so they might have to make long trips, or stay nearby.

What will my home life look like now?

If you and your family live under one roof, you can expect some changes. One of your parents might spend lots of time with your sibling, staying with them during treatment or giving up work to care for them. Your parents also might seem more preoccupied than usual under the weight of worry and keeping daily life running.

You’ll all be coping with your own emotions and stress levels might be high, but it’s important everyone can contribute and feel useful. Think about how you could work together as a team. Are there any practical tasks you can help out with to take the pressure off your parents? Would you want to spend time with your brother or sister in hospital, or help them get to and from treatment?

The big questions

Read more about what your sibling is dealing with

Understanding what your brother or sister is up against can really make a difference. Browse our info for young people with cancer by topic to familiarise yourself with some of the issues they might be facing.

Support yourself

Being there for your sibling doesn’t mean that you’re not going to feel down at times too. Watching someone you love go through cancer can be scary and tough. It means an extra weight on your shoulders while you also have to deal with your own emotions.

It’s normal to feel sad or low – and you shouldn’t feel guilty or selfish. In fact, admitting this to your brother or sister can help you both open up to each other and bring you closer. It’s also important that you have someone who will listen to how you’re feeling. So talk to a friend, your family, doctor or a counsellor. Remember that the people caring for your brother or sister will also be there for you.