Groups and Organizations
American Association of Caregiving Youth
AACY offers support for young people caring for a family member. The Florida headquarters and its affiliates run workshops that can help kids cope with household responsibilities. The website also has information and a resource list. In addition, AACY encourages young caregivers to call and share comments.
American Cancer Society
If you’ve got a question about cancer, this organization’s thorough and up-to-date website will probably have the answer. The American Cancer Society also takes phone calls 24 hours a day on its toll-free number and can connect callers with local resources. All conversations are free and confidential.
The camp, which takes its name from the Hebrew word for magic, welcomes kids ages six to sixteen who’ve faced a parent’s cancer. The first Camp Kesem was held in 2000 and was sponsored by students at Stanford University. Today there are 40-plus Camp Kesems, with more in the works. Each site is run by students at a local university and provides a free one-week camp stay for eligible youngsters. Last year the camp hosted more than 2,100 campers; 400 of them were teens.
Cancer Care, Inc.
Cancer Care offers free counseling in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York by oncology social workers, and can provide information about in person, phone, or online support groups for teens.
Cancer Support Community
This nonprofit group has fifty affiliates in addition to satellite offices and online support. Check the website to see if there’s a chapter in your area, then touch base to inquire about support programs and services for teens. Cancer Support Community also administers a website for teens with cancer in the family and teens with cancer: grouploop.org.
Children’s Bereavement Center, Miami
Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas
Each of the nonprofit centers provides free peer support groups for teens who’ve lost a parent.
The Children’s Treehouse Foundation
An organization providing emotional support to kids whose parents have cancer. Through their CLIMB program, they provide group-based support programs to kids undergoing this experience. CLIMB is location-based, but will soon also be available online.
Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center
Based in Columbia, Maryland, the center sponsors a support group for teens dealing with a parent’s cancer.
The Gathering Place
With two locations in Cleveland, this nonprofit offers support groups for teenagers as well as individual counseling.
gildasclubnyc.org, gildasclubchicago.org, gildasclubseattle. org, gildasclubdetroit.org, and more
This cancer support group is named for the Saturday Night Live comic, Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer. Clubs in cities across the United States offer programs for teens. The Seattle Gilda’s Club and other chapters run an annual essay contest, called “It’s Always Something,” for teens affected by cancer in the family as well as teens who have been diagnosed with cancer.
This Pennsylvania nonprofit’s services include Kids Under Construction, which offers activities (and a chance to talk) for young people fighting cancer as well as youngsters dealing with a family member’s cancer. The group also offers help with shopping, transportation, and other day-to-day needs.
The cancer center regularly runs six-week support groups for teens facing a parent’s cancer. Teen Circle is for teens whose parent is going through treatment or dealing with its aftermath. Teen Grief Group addresses the loss of a parent to cancer. The groups meet in the group’s Lutherville, Maryland, location, just outside Baltimore.
The Orange County–based support group was founded in 1993 by thirteen-year-old Jon Wagner-Holtz, who wished for support when his own mom was dealing with breast cancer. With a grant from the Susan G. Komen foundation, he set up an 800 number that he manned from his bedroom. Today, Kids Konnected has a professional staff, four chapters in southern California, and branches in several states. Its teen programs, all in California, include year-round support groups, a Youth Leadership mentor program, and a weeklong summer camp with daytime activities like river rafting and archery and nightly support sessions.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Teens for the Cure—a program for teens who’d like to get involved in breast cancer awareness and fund-raising—is offered by chapters in Philadelphia, New York City, and El Paso, Texas. In Philly, the teens put on a fundraising fashion show called “Tickled Pink.” Other chapters emphasize participation in the local Komen 5K race and bringing information about the disease to schools.
The Komen Scholarship Program offers college scholarships to teens who’ve lost a parent to breast cancer. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Life with Cancer
Based in Fairfax, Virginia, this group offers support groups for teens coping with a parent’s cancer as well as for teens who’ve lost a family member to the disease.
This organization, founded by cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, offers one-on-one support for cancer survivors and their caregivers, family members, and friends. Call Livestrong or submit a request online at livestrong.org/gethelp. In addition, Livestrong offers opportunities to join in athletic events that raise funds to help fight cancer.
Marjorie E. Korff PACT Program (Parenting At a Challenging Time)
The program, based at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, provides guidance for parents with cancer and their spouses or co-parents. Teens will likely find PACT a helpful resource as well.
MD Anderson Cancer Center
This world-renowned center, located in Houston, offers Teen Climb, a six-week program for teens who have a parent in treatment at MD Anderson. A parent program is offered during the same cycle. Call for information.
This resource for people suffering from mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure offers a great guide for parents on how to talk to children of several different age groups (including teens) about cancer. It covers how to handle difficult questions and recommended books to prepare for these conversations. All advice is medically reviewed by doctors.
Free resources and support materials from victims of this rare form of cancer, and their family members caring for them.
National Cancer Institute
Part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, NCI offers one of the most thorough and up-to-date websites on cancer. The site for PDQ, Physician Data Query, is a comprehensive database with information presented for both patients and physicians.
Sloan Kettering Cancer Center—Kids Express Program
Kids Express helps kids during a parent’s cancer treatment, providing brochures and referrals to therapists. Kids who have a parent in treatment at Sloan Kettering can call to speak to a social worker. Staff social workers also offer guidance to adult cancer patients about discussing the disease with their children.
Students of Survivors
This Alabama-based organization provides an annual scholarship to a teen who’s had a parent diagnosed with cancer during the high school years.
supersibs.org; in Illinois 847-462-4742, toll-free 888-417-4704
The group helps kids who have a sibling with cancer, but many of the teen issues discussed on its website are relevant to kids coping with a parent’s cancer as well.
Tu Nidito Children and Family Services
Tu Nidito, Spanish for “your little nest,” is a Tucson, Arizona, group that offers regular support group session for teens coping with a parent’s cancer as well as groups for parents who’ve been diagnosed with the disease and caregiver parents.
University of Cincinnati Health Library Cancer Resources
If your kids are not quite teens, check out these helpful online FAQs and other resources about communicating cancer to children.
Located in HInsdale, Illinois, the Wellness House offers support to anyone impacted by cancer, including groups for teens who have a loved one with cancer and teens who have experienced the death of a loved one to cancer. All programs are free of cost.
Books for Parents
These books offer superb guidance for parents.
How to Help Children Through a Parent’s Serious Illness
by Kathleen McCue and Ron Bonn (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Raising an Emotionally Healthy Child When a Parent Is Sick: A Harvard Medical School Book
by Paula Rauch and Anna Muriel (McGraw-Hill)
When a Parent Has Cancer: A Guide to Caring for Your Children
by Wendy Schlessel Harpham (William Morrow)
First Aid for People with Cancer
From Pacific Medical Training
“Talking to Your Kids About Terminal Illness: A Guide for Parents”
by Amanda Menard, LPN