Supportive Care at the Joan Karnell Cancer Center
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Children's Issues

A cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment process can be a frightening and difficult time for a patient and their family. For families with young children or teenagers there is additional concern about how the children will react to the diagnosis and treatment process of a parent.

Sharing the news is not an easy task. Joan Karnell Supportive Care Services provides you with a practical set of information and resources to assist you in talking with your children about the diagnosis and treatment process, as well as information and interactive activities for your children.

Through Children's Eyes:
Understanding Illness and Helping Them Cope

As a parent diagnosed with cancer, you will not only face your own fears, but also those of your children. To help your children cope with the lifechanging experience of your diagnosis and treatment, it is important to consider their level of understanding about illness.

Remember that children are resilient and, with support, they can cope. Therefore, it may be beneficial to inform your child's teacher and/or school administrator so they can support your child during the school day. Communication is key throughout the entire cancer journey. Ultimately, you know your child best; the following information is for your reference.

Choose from the following links to find information about how your child understands serious illnesses based upon their age and ways to help them cope with change:

We have compiled a book list that offers suggestions for additional resources.

You may have questions that are not answered by the material on this site or find yourself with additional concerns. Your social worker can help. At the Joan Karnell Supportive Care Services at Pennsylvania Hospital, social work services are here to support you and your family cope with the changes that occur as a result of cancer.

An art therapist, music therapist, bereavement counselors and psychologists are available to you and your children. Your doctors, nurses and other supportive care staff are also available to talk, listen and assist you. Please let us know how we can help. For more information, call 215-829-6466.


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Need an appointment? Request one online 24 hours/day, 7 days/week or call 800-789-PENN (7366) to speak to a referral counselor.

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