child with cancer

Brotherly Love: 3 Things Siblings Can Do For A Child With Cancer

Our two boys are three years apart, and they are best friends. When our youngest son, Cooper, was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 2, it was very hard for the boys to be separated.

We live a long way from Omaha, where Cooper was hospitalized. So, it made the most sense for grandparents to stay at home with our oldest son, Anthony, so he could go to school and have a somewhat normal life.

A Ray Of Sunshine

They brought Anthony to visit us in the hospital on the weekends and vacation days. When he walked in the door, Cooper’s face would light up. Even if Cooper wasn’t feeling well, when Anthony came to visit, they played and acted like brothers.

We always told Anthony that he was Cooper’s best medicine. There is just something special about the bond between siblings.

Anthony’s Secrets For Helping A Child With Cancer

However, sometimes it can be hard for brothers and sisters to know how to help their sibling through cancer treatment, especially from far away. Here are 3 ideas:

child with cancer

1. Bring Tiny Treats When You Visit.

When Anthony came to see Cooper, he always had a special little something to leave with him. Hours after Anthony left, Cooper would be holding onto that little toy, even if it was just from a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

It didn’t so much matter what it was that Anthony brought Cooper. It was more about the fact that it was from his brother and made him feel closer to Anthony after he left.

2. Say Hello From Far Away Via Video Chat.

These days, most of us have Facetime or Skype. This can be a good way to be “face-to-face” between visits. However, our boys were fairly young during Cooper’s cancer treatment, and they didn’t do overly well with these video chats at first.

Eventually, we learned that it works better if you schedule the call for a time of day when your kids will be at their best (not right before bed), and plan for a short call. Even just a little time on video chat can help the kids feel like they got to “see” each other.

3. Special Delivery: Send Mail.

Colored pictures or written notes sent back and forth between siblings can be a fun treat for everyone.

child with cancer

Cancer treatment is tough on everyone, but having family by your side can make all the difference in the world.

The ideas I listed are fun things to try, but the truth is, siblings can be their own special kind of medicine just by being who they are—the loved and cherished brothers and sisters of the child going through cancer treatment.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Jenni DeWitt
I’ve been a cancer mom since February of 2012 when my 2-year-old son, Cooper, was diagnosed with leukemia. I'm excited to connect with you here at Lionfighters and on

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