When your adult child has cancer

It can be one of life’s most painful experiences to be the parent of a sick child – even if that child is an adult. The changes that a cancer diagnosis brings to their life may mean that your adult child turns to you more often than they have recently.

If you are in good health, and you live close by or are able to spend extended periods of time with your child and their family, you might be a source of great support for them. You may be able to help around the house, run errands or look after grandchildren. Some parents help as caregivers to their adult children or go to appointments and treatments with them.

Your biggest challenge may be being helpful without making your adult child feel helpless or like a child again. Respect the right of your adult child to make their own decisions, even if you disagree with them.

If your health is poor, you may not be able to help out as much. There are no easy answers for planning what’s best for your entire family in this situation. You may feel sad or even guilty that you can’t look after your child as you would like to, but it’s important to focus on your own health and care.

Expert review and references

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

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