Children and Teens Programs

Cancer affects everyone including family members and friends, but children may be taking it the hardest.  They may have thoughts like….

  • "Nothing is the same anymore."
  • "I'm so mad, I could just... "
  • "It's all my fault."
  • "He/she is so grumpy; I must have done something wrong.”

At Life with Cancer, children and teens can learn about cancer, meet others who have a loved one with cancer, and talk about the wide range of feelings and changes that cancer brings to their lives. Check out our list of services, our mind-body / wellness programs, our complete monthly calendar, and our resource center. All programs and services are free of charge, thanks to generous contributions by individuals, foundations and corporate donors:

Professional Support
Life with Cancer is staffed by a group of highly experienced and caring professionals including social workers, nurses, an art therapist and volunteers who provide the help and support children and parents need.

Partnerships with Parents
Life with Cancer partners with parents to provide a healthy, safe environment where children can ask questions, learn coping skills and talk about their frustrations and fears. 

  • Are there questions about how to tell your child about the cancer diagnosis and the treatments?
  • Concerned about your child’s reaction to changes occurring within the family?
  • Need resources to help your child better understand cancer?

Through group discussions, games and art activities, children can learn to express themselves and feel more confident.  At the same time, Life with Cancer offers parents the information, resources and support they need to best help their children.

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Art Therapy and Tracy's Kids Foundation
Tracy's KidsThrough a grant from the Tracy's Kids Foundation, art therapy is provided at 3 Inova locations: Inova's Pediatric Outpatient Oncology Clinic, The Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children's Oncology Unit and the Life with Cancer Family Center.

Tracy's Kids is an art therapy program that helps pediatric cancer patients and their families cope with the emotional stress of cancer and its treatment. Tracy's Kids uses art therapy to engage with children and teenage patients, their siblings and parents so they have opportunities to express feelings related to the illness, the treatment and the many changes and stressors that accompany a cancer diagnosis. In addition, individual art therapy and support groups are provided for children and teens who have a family member with cancer or need bereavement support.

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Programs for Children Whose Family Member has Cancer
A cancer diagnosis is never easy.  It can be overwhelming and frightening to parents and relatives and may even be more difficult for children and teens.  No matter who in the family has cancer, children and teens need to know they are not alone.  They need information and education along with support as they learn about the cancer and the wide range of emotions and changes that cancer may bring to their lives. Some children’s and teens programs include:

  • Curious About Cancer: Children ages 5-12 are invited to learn about cancer through discussion and activities to find way to manage the emotions and changes that come when someone in the family has cancer.
  • Teens Meet and Eat: Teens ages 13-18 who have a family member with cancer meet monthly to eat, hang out and have a little fun with others who understand the concerns, changes and feelings teens may be experiencing.
  • Good Grief for Children: Children ages 5-12 who have lost a loved one though cancer are invited to share their thoughts and feelings, and work through the grief process through discussion and art therapy.
  • Good Grief Dinner for Teens: Teens ages 13-18 meet monthly for dinner to meet with other teens who have lost a love one to cancer, to learn about the grief process and share thoughts and feelings.

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Programs for Children with Cancer and their Families
For children with cancer and their families, Life with Cancer offers a range of educational and support programs for the whole family, from diagnosis through the end of treatment and beyond, including dealing with late effects.  Programs include:

  • Pediatric Oncology Parent Night:  Monthly educational and support group meetings with guest speakers and topics pertinent to coping with childhood cancer
  • Super Sibling Support Days and Kids with Cancer Days:  All day programs for kids with cancer and their siblings, ages 5 – 12, to learn about cancer, share feelings, and cope with changes in the family.  Children participate in arts and crafts, medical play, and other “fun” activities
  • Conferences for Teen and Young Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer: Educational events focusing on survivorship issues, late effects, and leading healthy lives after treatment for pediatric cancer
  • Bereaved Parent Support Group:  Monthly support group for parents who have lost a child to cancer under the age of 18

How to get started…

For more information about these programs, to help figure out what may be the best way to help your children, to register your child or teen for a group or to make an appointment for individual counseling, please contact:

Jean McCaw, MA, ATR-BC
Child & Adolescent Program Coordinator


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