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When Your Brother or Sister Has Cancer: A Guide for Teens

  • Posted: 12/26/2013

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The Road Ahead

Sometimes things do work out as you hope.
Sometimes things look like they won't work out as you hope.

Sometimes things do work out as you hope.

Christine shares her story:

"My brother has been in remission for two years now. Things were pretty bad at first. Then after a while, things sort of settled down and got back to the way they were before. I think Rob's cancer brought us all closer together. I get along better with him and my sister and even with my older brother now. I'm closer to Mom and Dad. And I think we all grew up a lot while he was sick."
- Christine, age 15

Sometimes things look like they won't work out as you hope.

Here's what Sam has to say:

"Watching my little brother play with his cars one morning made me so sad. He loves those things. He looked up and told me if he dies I can have all his cars. Then he just went on playing. I felt a huge lump in my throat. He's an amazing little kid."
- Sam, age 14

It can be hard to stay calm when you aren't sure what the future holds. You may be thinking - will my brother or sister live? Will the cancer come back? Will life ever be the same? Will I laugh again? Enjoy being with friends again?

While no one can know the future, there are things you can do to make your life a little easier:

  • Keep talking and pulling together as a family. You may find that cancer has drawn you closer together and made you appreciate each other more.
  • Discover your own needs. Don't let others tell you how you should feel. Allow yourself to cope at your own pace and in your own way.
  • Remember that you're growing as a person. Many teens say that having a brother or sister with cancer has made them more sympathetic, more responsible, and stronger.
  • Keep in mind that you aren't alone. Right now you may feel lonelier than you ever have in your life. But you are not alone. Family members, friends, neighbors, support groups, and counselors are there to lend a helping hand, listen to you, and give you good advice. Accept their help; you deserve it.
  • Appreciate each day. Many teens who have a brother or sister with cancer say that they learned to see the world more clearly. In time you may come to appreciate things you may have overlooked in the past.

Maybe you have noticed that little things seem to have more meaning for you these days. Take some time to write these thoughts down, even if they seem small:








Unfortunately, no booklet or person can tell you how everything is going to work out. Cancer is tough, and your life may never be quite the same. But in the end, you will get through it. Why? You're strong. And you are capable - even if you don't always feel that way.

It's great that you want to learn more!

Keep in mind that cancer treatments are getting better all the time. Make sure that what you read or see is up to date and accurate. Talk with your parents or another trusted adult about what you find. Share the articles or books you've found with them. Ask them any questions you may have.