Your parents

All families are unique. Some young people are close to their family, while others may not be. Whatever your situation, your cancer diagnosis will almost certainly have an impact on your parents and your relationship with them.

Your parents will probably be shocked and fearful, which could lead to them being over-protective. This might feel stifling, especially if you're used to being independent. So it's important you try to tell them how you feel. By calmly and clearly explaining what it is you'd like from your parents, you can establish some boundaries and it may prevent tension in the future. It may also help to speak to a member of your care team about any issues.

The diagnosis had a huge effect on my mum. I wanted to push ahead with the treatment and mum found that hard because she really wanted to help me.

How do I talk to my parents without upsetting them?

You may be scared to talk to your parents about your cancer for fear of upsetting them. But the people closest to you will generally want to know how you feel. Even if it’s difficult, it’s better to get everything out in the open - it will probably be best for everyone in the long run.

If you have the opportunity, a good way to talk about serious or emotional things with your parents is to do it in a calm environment while you’re concentrating on something else, like preparing some food. This could help you to ease into the conversation and make it feel less intense.

I feel guilty that my cancer is putting pressure on my parents

For some young people, a cancer diagnosis leads to them needing their parents to care for them and provide money and a place to live, even if they've left home or were about to do so. This can sometimes feel like a backward step and result in practical, financial and emotional issues they feel guilty about.

If you feel this way, it's helpful to talk to your parents about these concerns. It's very likely they'd prefer you to concentrate on getting better rather than worrying about things.

What support is available for my parents?

Whatever questions or concerns your parents have, they can always talk to a member of your care team. Financially, your parents may be entitled to support if they become your carer. Go to the Financial support section for more information.

Content last reviewed: November 2015
Next planned review: 2016