Like a natural disaster, the diagnosis that your child has cancer can leave you and your family feeling helpless.

  • How do you explain the disease to the child and to his or her siblings?
  • How can you communicate your child's needs to the hospital staff?
  • What are the best ways to reduce the physical side effects and the emotional distress of treatment?
  • How will you, your child or teenager, and the rest of your family cope with cancer, and what can you do to help?
  • When and where do you find good psychological help for your child or your family?
  • How do you manage financial and school issues?
  • How can you foster your child's development and self-esteem?

More than 12,000 American children will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and roughly 75% will survive. In addition to excellent medical care, their survival depends on a strong support network, which may include parents, siblings, extended family members, friends and neighbors, classmates and teachers. In this down-to-earth guidebook, mother-daughter team Leigh Woznick and Carol Goodheart draw on their own family's experience with cancer as well as their professional expertise and stories from others to help families address the psychological impact of cancer. The result is a book filled with sound emotional guidance, useful information, and practical advice for families coping with cancer.

Table of Contents



  1. Navigating the Emotional Terrain
  2. Creating and Working With the Team: Doctors, Nurses, Health Insurers, Teachers, and Others
  3. Coping Successfully
  4. Understanding the Impact on Your Family and Friends
  5. Handling Emotions and Communicating Well
  6. Reducing Stress
  7. Alleviating Trauma
  8. Recognizing Special Risks for Stress and Trauma
  9. Relieving Pain and Side Effects
  10. Encouraging Child Development
  11. Building Self-Esteem in Your Child
  12. Dying and Grieving
  13. Surviving and Carrying the Torch



Author Index

Subject Index

About the Authors

Author Bios

Leigh A. Woznick is the parent of a cancer survivor. She is also a charter member of the Family Advisory Council at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Dr. Carol Goodheart, EdD, is a licensed psychologist specializing in health psychology. She was cochair of the American Psychological Association's Congressional Initiative on Serious Illness and is the cochair of its Task Force on Health. Dr. Goodheart is a clinical supervisor at Rutgers University Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology.

Reviews & Awards

This book is an excellent roadmap for families who are faced with the shattering experience of having a child with cancer.
—University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Noting individual differences in styles and preferences, the authors provide a detailed listing of ways for parents to help themselves and their children emotionally. These are concrete actions and strategies based on the experiences of those who have tried to adapt successfully to the diagnosis and treatment of a child with cancer…The book is recommended as a valuable resource for families, professionals and others who want to learn about coping with pediatric cancer.
—Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

This is a wonderful book. It is full of real feeling and real stories from people dealing with childhood cancer.
—Mark Chesler, PhD, National Board Member, Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation