Return To Services

Service Information

Family support

Cancer family support – for families with children

When someone close to them has cancer, children are affected – regardless of how much or how little they know.

Children are quick to notice change of routine, change of mood, tension and anxiety in the home. They can see when people are feeling poorly. They may feel left out, and feel that they have done something wrong. They may wonder if they can catch what you have.


I am concerned how my treatment may impact my childcare responsibilities and the support I offer my family

I am not sure what to say when they ask questions and I sometimes think they will worry about talking to me and ‘hold it in’


Macmillan Therapeutic Family Practitioners

Macmillan Therapeutic Family Practitioners offer information, advice and support to families with children.  Our trained and experienced practitioners work with children, their parents, carers, grandparents and other family members.

The role of the Therapeutic Family Practitioner

Watch a video explaining the role of the Therapeutic Family Practitioner. The video opens in a new window which takes you to YouTube where accessibility controls may not be supported.


Emotional /psychological support for you and your family can come via:

  • information, advice, parenting/grandparents support
  • liaison with schools or colleges
  • workshops for children
  • signposting and referral to other agencies
  • bereavement support


Tell children:

  • the facts – simple language, small chunks
  • the name of the cancer
  • what will happen next? – surgery/treatment
  • to be prepared for obvious changes i.e. hair loss
  • there’s hope – “doctors are working hard to make me better”
  • that it’s not their fault and they have done or said nothing to have caused this
  • the truth – children have active imaginations


Children’s feelings:

  • reassure them – all their different emotions are normal
  • give them opportunities to ask questions and talk about their feelings
  • help them to recognise, name and deal with emotions in safe ways
  • help them to come up with their own coping strategies


Children need to:

  • keep to usual routines
  • keep as normal as possible – school, clubs, etc.
  • be flexible and relaxed if changes need to be made
  • involved – helping can make them feel good
  • stay consistent – boundaries help children to feel safe
  • prepare for separations – toys, photos, calendars, books
  • continue going to school – it gives stability
  • stay in touch with teachers
  • keep talking


Contact the ESNEFT Macmillan Therapeutic Family Practitioners

You can call us directly or ask your nurse, consultant or the Cancer Wellbeing Centre/John Le Vay team to make a referral.

We are based at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, but can also visit families at home and children in school. We give information and advice to carers. We also work with children and teenagers who need support.


Macmillan Therapeutic Family Practitioner – Colchester

Contact Marie Rivierre

07591 986 818

Macmillan Therapeutic Family Practitioner – Ipswich

Contact Angelika Rohrig

07909 878 361



Back to top Print This Page
Translate »