Q. My 51-year-old husband is in the last stage of cancer. It's very difficult for all of us and specially for our teenage son. He needs some counseling and maybe groups to talk. I need help regarding this especially during the holidays.
A good place to begin your search for counseling for your son would be the hospital where your husband receives treatment. The social work staff may be able to provide individual counseling and/or support groups. If these services aren’t available at the hospital where your husband is being treated, they might be able to provide you with the name of a local therapist who moderates groups or who works with adolescents individually. Your general practitioner might also be a good source for referrals to these types of services. If your husband is receiving hospice care, the hospice team often provides counseling for the family.
It would likely be helpful to discuss with your son what he thinks would be the best way for him to process his feelings. Does he want to participate in a group, or would he be more comfortable talking one-on-one with a counselor? Opening up a dialogue and eliciting questions will help you understand what your son is feeling and can deepen the connection between you. Despite the difficulty of the situation, he will also see your concern and dedication to helping him bear the reality of the situation.
Additional resources that may be helpful include:
- Our podcast Helping Children and Teens Understand When a Parent or Loved One Has Cancer
- Our publication “Helping Teenagers When a Parent Has Cancer”
- Cancer Support Community’s online forum Group Loop
Although CancerCare does not provide telephone counseling to teens, you may call us to speak with one of our oncology social workers who can help support you as you help your son cope with his father’s illness. Our social workers can also help you find local resources. We can be reached by calling 800-813-4673.