Support for children

If you or the person with pancreatic cancer has children or grandchildren, they may need support too. We have listed resources and organisations that can help people support and talk to children.

What's in the 'Information for family members' section?


For most children and teenagers, it’s best to be honest and explain to them what’s going on. You may feel you want to protect them, but even very young children often sense when something is wrong. They may get more worried if they are not told what is happening.

Use language a child will understand. Check they have understood by asking them to tell you what is happening in their own words. Be prepared to answer their questions and be honest if you don’t know the answer. You may worry about getting upset in front of children, but this can help them understand that it’s okay for them to be upset too. Don’t worry if they listen to what you tell them but don’t seem to react. This is normal and doesn’t mean they haven’t understood.

Some children and teenagers behave differently, or become quiet and withdrawn when someone they know is affected by cancer. It can help to let their school know what is happening so they can get any support they need from staff at the school. Students can talk to their college or university, who can provide support and help with their workload.

Useful organisations

  • Macmillan Cancer Support have a booklet, Talking to children and teenagers when an adult has cancer.
  • Maggie’s Centres offer support to help you talk to children about cancer, and provide specialist support for families.
  • The Fruit Fly Collective have a range of information and tools to help children with a parent who has cancer.
  • Teenagers may find it easier to talk to their friends or another adult outside the family, or find support online. RipRap is a website for teenagers who have a parent with cancer.
  • In Northern Ireland, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland provide support to children and young people who have a family member with cancer.
  • Winston’s Wish provides information and support for children with a parent who has a serious illness, or who have been bereaved.
  • Your family member’s nurse may also be able to give you information and advice about talking to children.

Updated September 2019

Review date September 2021