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Support for families coping with a child with cancer

Thursday 2 October, 2014

A cancer diagnosis can come as a huge shock to anyone. When it is a child who is diagnosed that news can also impact on parents, siblings, the broader family, school community, friends and neighbours.

In partnership with childhood cancer experts, Cancer Council Victoria has launched new online resources to ensure everyone affected by childhood cancer gets the right information and support.

The information covers a range of sensitive topics including:

  • Types of treatments including side effects
  • School issues
  • Common effects on siblings
  • Recognising when a child needs extra help

The resources, now available online, were created in collaboration with the Paediatric Integrated Cancer Service (PICS) and partner hospitals: the Monash Children’s Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Royal Children’s Hospital.

Cancer Council Helpline Manager and oncology nurse Katherine Lane said no matter what age the child a cancer diagnosis would have a big effect on them, and their family.

“For most children with cancer, their life changes dramatically. Going through tests, doctor’s appointments and treatment will become part of their daily life. They will have a lot to cope with and it is important they have people close by they can trust and feel loved by at all times.”

PICS Quality, Research & Data Coordinator Rachel Elliott said the information had been put together in consultation with cancer and childhood experts as well as families who had been affected by a cancer diagnosis in a child.

“Whilst every child and every family is different, this information aims to provide a broad sector of the community with reliable and accessible information.”

Kathy Porter’s life changed dramatically when son Callum, nine, was diagnosed with leukaemia in March this year.

“As a parent, to hear that your child has cancer comes as a complete shock. A world of doctors, nurses, tests and treatment – it’s so much to take in at a very difficult time. It’s great to know these resources are now available to support families when they need it most.”

The new resources are available online at

Parents can also call speak to experienced cancer nurses by calling the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.