My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks

My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks

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by Marc Silver

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Real-life advice from real-life teens
Currently one million American teenagers live with a parent who is fighting cancer. It's a hard blow for those already navigating high school, preparing for college, and becoming increasingly independent. My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks is the first book written especially for teens to


Real-life advice from real-life teens
Currently one million American teenagers live with a parent who is fighting cancer. It's a hard blow for those already navigating high school, preparing for college, and becoming increasingly independent. My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks is the first book written especially for teens to help during this tough time.

Author Maya Silver was 15 when her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. She and her dad, Marc, have combined their family's personal experience with advice from dozens of medical professionals and real stories from 100 teens--all going through the same thing Maya did.

In a highly designed, engaging style, this book gives practical guidance that includes:
• how to talk about the diagnosis (and what does diagnosis even mean, anyway?)
• the best outlets for stress (punching a wall is not a great one, but should it happen, there are instructions for a patch job)
• how to deal with friends (especially one the ones with 'pity eyes')
• whether to tell the teachers and guidance counselors and what they should know (how not to get embarrassed in class)
• what happens in a therapy session and how to find a support group if you want one

A special section for parents also gives tips on strategies for sharing the news, making sure your child doesn't become the parent, what to do if the outlook is grim, and tips for how to live life after cancer.

My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks allows teens to see that they are not alone. That no matter how rough things get, they will get through this difficult time. That everything they're feeling is ok. Essays from Gilda Radner's "Gilda's Club" annual contest are an especially poignant and moving testimony of how other teens dealt with their family's situation.


"Wisely crafted into a wonderfully warm, engaging and informative book that reads like a chat with a group of friends with helpful advice from the experts."
Paula K. Rauch MD, Director of the Marjorie E. Korff Parenting At a Challenging Time Program

"A must read for parents, kids, teachers and medical staff who know anyone with cancer. You will learn something on every page."
Anna Gottlieb, MPA, Founder and CEO Gilda's Club Seattle

"This book is a 'must have' for oncologists, cancer treatment centers and families with teenagers."
Kathleen McCue, MA, LSW, CCLS, Director of the Children's Program at The Gathering Place, Cleveland, OH

"My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks provides a much-needed toolkit for teens coping with a parent's cancer. In this honest and heart-felt guide, Marc Silver and his daughter, Maya, present direct, no-nonsense and helpful advice."
Jane Saccaro, CEO of Camp Kesem, a camp for children who have a parent with cancer

"Marc and Maya Silver have skillfully blended the voices of teens, parents and experts...This book is knowing, pragmatic, and attuned to the challenges of growing into one's self while having to attend to a parent's needs."
Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and author of The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers

"A valuable resource for teenagers and their families."
Seth Berkowitz, LCSW, CCLS, Patient Services Manager, Southern Florida Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Drawing on their own experiences, the Silvers offer advice for finding solace in people who have been there and who have found ways to cope. ... [They] speak with an honesty that teens will identify and find comfort in." - Booklist

"Chock-full of information and advice ... the many voices offer a variety of perspectives." - Kirkus

"A comprehensive how-to-get-through-it guide that includes insight from dozens of medical professionals and 100 teens." - Staten Island Advance

"A first of its kind guide written especially for teenagers who have a parent fighting cancer." -

"Every household with children should have access to this book. It answers more questions than I would have ever considered myself and it puts a perspective on the importance of how this disease changes everyone's life. ... It also reminds us that if we always consider each other and respect each other and work together, we can get through anything that life brings our way — including cancer." - Let Life Happen

""My Parent Has Cancer And It Really Sucks honestly and openly tackles the questions, fears and emotions that many teenagers face after learning a parent has cancer. It offers sound and practical advice on how to keep communicating, handle stress, face friends, seek support, carry on as normally as possible at school and figure out cancer lingo, to name a few." - Nancy's Point" - Nancy's Point

"This accessible book has topics ranging from what to do when you first learn the news, to how to manage stress and friendships, to coping with a parent's dire prognosis. ... This is the book for librarians to recommend to students in this situation." - Library Media Connection

"For teens dealing with a parent's cancer and who might feel as though no one understands what they're going through ... This is the book for librarians to recommend to students in this situation." - Library Media Connection

School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—This well-organized handbook aims to guide teens through the experience of having an ill parent. Offering "survival tips" from those who have experienced the ordeal firsthand and including "words of wisdom" from trained professionals, it provides honest, practical, and heartfelt advice. Short chapters include "Let's Talk: How to Keep Your Family Communication Lines Wide Open," "How Things Will Change During Cancer," "Dealing with Stress," "The Power (and the Limits) of Optimism and Faith," "Seeking Support," "Facing a Dire Prognosis," and "Losing a Parent to Cancer." Readers are reminded that "cancer doesn't follow rules" and can impact families of any background. The Silvers effectively provide guidance and insight for teens seeking the ability to cope so that "the new normal" (a term used to describe life after cancer) can be realized.—Kathryn Diman, Bass Harbor Memorial Library, Bernard, ME
Kirkus Reviews
A guide for teens who have a parent with cancer is chock-full of information and advice but sometimes misses the mark. The authors, the husband and now-adult daughter of a woman who had cancer, include advice and personal experience from social workers, teens whose parents have or have had cancer, and adults who were teens when their parents were diagnosed. One chapter explicates common cancer terms; others offer advice for finding support, communicating with family and friends, and dealing with the loss of a parent. Although the many voices offer a variety of perspectives, the book assumes a middle-class, suburban readership: All families are assumed to have cars, and a chapter on "parentification" assumes that any teen taking on a parental role after a parent's diagnosis will be doing so for the first time. Gender-based assumptions seem more harmful than helpful (why separate the "Risky Business" chapter into stories about "Bad Boys" and "Bad Girls" when the behaviors described are all very similar?), and a few of the bits of helpful advice are downright baffling ("Don't spend [your time with a dying parent] down in the dumps. You don't want to have false hope. Hope is an important thing to have"). There are some helpful ideas and anecdotes here, but it's not for every teen. (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)
850L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

From the Introduction:

We hope that the voices in this book create a community of support to give you strength as you deal with your parent's cancer. Because if you can learn from the 20/20 hindsight and mistakes of others who've been there, you'll be better prepared to handle the situations you will encounter.

A parent's cancer is uncharted territory, and the uncertainty about what's happening and what's next can be nerve-racking. "Among the things I wish I was told with more clarity is: here's what your mom's going to be going through, here's what you need to do, what you need to be aware of..." said Aaron, who was a teen when his mom had breast cancer. This book doesn't have all the answers, but it will provide you with an idea of what might be going on-and how to get the information you need if your parents aren't good communicators.

One of the most important things we learned from interviewing so many teens--and one of the themes of this guide--is that everyone deals with their parent's cancer differently. Some people cope just fine. Others have a very hard time. A lot depends on the nature of the diagnosis. Is your parent facing a cancer that has a good treatment success rate? Or is the cancer a difficult one to treat?

Your reaction also depends on you. Personalities differ. Some teens want lots and lots of information. Others want the bare minimum. Some worry a great deal. Others feel confident that everything will be okay. Some lose their focus at school and see grades slip. Others hyper-focus on keeping grades up. Some want to talk about it all. Others don't. And that's okay.

One thing we can all agree on, though, is that cancer sucks. For everyone involved. We hope this book will help you cope in the months and years ahead.

As hard as times may get, you will make it through. Take it from Bailee Richardson, who was twelve when her mom was diagnosed: "Stay strong. Everything's going to work itself out in the end. Don't ever let it get the best of you."

Finally, here are two rules for this book:

Rule 1: Teens, don't feel guilty. You have your own way of coping, and you don't have to behave like any other teen in this book.

Rule 2: Parents, do not use the book to make your teen talk if he or she doesn't want to talk.

Read on!

Meet the Author

Marc Silver is the author of Breast Cancer Husband. He is currently deputy editor for text at National Geographic magazine and lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Maya Silver lives in Crested Butte, CO, where she works at the Office for Resource Efficiency. She won the Diane Vreuls Fiction Prize at Oberlin College in 2008 and has contributed to U.S. News & World Report and Washington Post Express.

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My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow this book was great so much love put in to it