Once they have been told that their grandchild has cancer, the best thing a grandparent can do is get informed totally on the disease and all aspects of treatment. In this way, you can be very helpful to the child’s parents. One of the fastest ways to get up to speed is to use a great resource provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). NCI has produced an 84 page booklet, Children with Cancer, A Guide for Parents that covers everything you need to know. While the title says “Parents,” it is also meant for Grandparents or any other caregiver. The booklet is provided here as a PDF. It’s very handy. The PDF can be read on the computer as needed or it can be downloaded to your computer. It can be also be printed on your own printer.
Sometimes the help, and particularly the advice, offered by grandparents is not always accepted with open arms at first. As you are probably already aware, your grandchild’s parents’ world has just been turned upside down and they are drowning in all types information at first. They need some time to digest what they are hearing and to take steps that are important to your grandchild’s treatment and their family’s welfare. At first, we grandparents need to avoid the temptation to jump right in and “handle everything.” In the beginning, we are best suited to be used as compassionate sounding boards. Our children don’t always need our advice when they talk to us. Sometimes, they just need to express their fears and feelings. We need to be in the listen-only mode until asked specifically for advice or help. Taking time in the beginning to learn about all the stages of dealing with childhood cancer, from this grandparent’s perspective, is the right thing to do so you can be more helpful down the road. After all, treating this disease takes time and you can play a big part if you are informed properly. My advice is to take the time to use this booklet to learn all you can, then you will be able to help everyone in the family. Your children will be surprised at how much you know about childhood cancer!
Author: Joe Baber