Sibling Support Program Cares for Brothers and Sisters of Cancer Patients

January 3, 2008

The physical and emotional strains placed on the family of a childhood cancer patient can be extremely difficult, especially for siblings. Thats why one of the nations largest pediatric cancer centers, located at Nationwide Childrens Hospital, created the Sibling Support Program. The comprehensive, family-focused course has been named one of the best in the country by SuperSibs, the national organization dedicated to supporting brothers and sisters of childhood cancer patients. 

More than 12,000 children and teenagers are diagnosed with cancer each year. Nationwide Childrens Hospital Sibling Support Program was developed by medical experts who wanted to help comfort the brothers and sisters of their cancer patients who often feel confused, scared, angry and alone.  

Understandably, so much attention is focused on the ill child, said Micah Skeens, PNP, Sibling Support Program Coordinator at Nationwide Childrens Hospital. However, healthy kids struggle to understand their own emotions as well as the stress on their parents. This program helps the entire family cope and support each other.

The 12-week program is designed to decrease anxiety, stress and guilt while increasing communication. Siblings participate in group discussions and workbook activities, sharing emotions and learning coping and communication techniques. The completion of the program is celebrated with a graduation ceremony titled A Celebration of You.

Funded by a donation from the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, the Sibling Support Program serves as a national model because of the scope of care and support it provides to the entire family.
Nationwide Childrens offers the following tips to help siblings cope with illness:
-Be informed by learning about the illness and treatment.
-Talk about change and its effect on your family.
-Share feelings and talk openly with one another.
-Support each other during stressful times.
-Take care of yourself, and dont forget to make time for rest, relaxation and fun.

About Nationwide Children's Hospital

Named to the Top 10 Honor Roll on U.S. News & World Report’s 2019-20 list of “Best Children’s Hospitals,” Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of America’s largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric health care systems providing wellness, preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents, as well as adult patients with congenital disease. Nationwide Children’s has a staff of more than 13,000 providing state-of-the-art pediatric care during more than 1.5 million patient visits annually. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s physicians train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. The Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the Top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded freestanding pediatric research facilities. More information is available at