Bupa has launched a series of booklets to support children when someone close to them has cancer. The booklets are free and available to all and have been developed through consultation with children and the advice of specialists, including Bupa’s cancer experts.
Child psychologist Professor Tanya Byron has today said that more emotional support is needed for families dealing with cancer, highlighting the difficulty of helping children to understand the illness. She said: “When we as adults receive information that is devastating to deal with, it’s almost harder to tell our children than it is to hear it ourselves. But research has shown that by not talking at all, in order to avoid the painful truth, many parents may be causing excessive levels of anxiety for their children when there are simple steps to manage this.
“Up until now there has been little advice available to help with this problem, which is why these new booklets, available now, are such an important initiative.”
The series of four booklets, called ‘I Know Someone with Cancer’, are aimed at 7-11 year olds. They explain cancer and treatments in a simple and sensitive way, using language and visuals that children can relate to. They also offer children ideas for dealing with their feelings and helping their family in small ways, as well as activities to occupy them at home or at hospital. They can be read independently by the child or used as a guide for discussion.
The initiative is also supported by actor Stephen Mangan, who has been personally affected by cancer and has young children of his own.
Stephen Mangan said: “My family has been affected by cancer and I’ve seen how hard it is to talk about the illness with loved ones. Now I have two young children I have wondered what I would do in that situation. These booklets are a wonderful tool to help with a very difficult conversation, to help children understand what the adult with cancer is going through and how to cope with their feelings about it.”
Dr Katrina Herren, medical director, Bupa Health and Wellbeing, said: “It can be very confusing and frightening for a child to find out someone they love is ill with cancer. We have set out to create something that children can understand and read in their own time and share with their friends and family.”
Bupa’s dedicated Oncology Support Team takes over 10,000 calls per month from people with cancer and their relatives, who often seek advice on the many emotional, physical and practical difficulties associated with cancer.
Bupa has been providing expert cancer care for over 60 years, funding treatment for over 23,000 people per year and follow-ups and support for an additional 20,000 cancer survivors who have been treated for cancer in the past.
The ‘I Know Someone with Cancer’ series can downloaded from www.bupa.co.uk/iknowsomeonewithcancer.