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Support for your family

Emotional Support

You are not alone.

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, parents often feel overwhelmed.  In addition to your care team at the hospital, there are many organizations in Connecticut offering emotional support services.  There are programs for patients and siblings, peer support for caregivers, counseling and other resources to help you.

Art therapy while at Yale New Haven Hospital

Yale New Haven Hospital offers Child Life, Arts for Healing (including art, music, and creative writing), and a Teen Center (ages 13+).

Counseling services

The psychosocial team at Connecticut Children's offers patient, sibling and family support services and includes psychologists, social workers, child life specialists and a resource specialist. Our cancer support services include counseling services and coping strategies.

Establish relationships with other families of children with cancer

In addition to providing safe, comfortable accommodations and a caring environment, Ronald McDonald House of Connecticut allows families to find a strong support system and establish relationships with other families who are facing similar anxieties, hardships and uncertainties. 

Gather with other survivors 

See Circle of Care at their annual 5K race. Join others in the Survivor Tent.

The Tommy Fund - Fully funds and presents alongside Smilow Cancer Hospital, Yale Cancer Center and their HEROS clinic, a day of "Survivorship" each June for current pediatric cancer patients, families and survivors free of charge. Partner childhood cancer organizations are welcomed this day to offer resources and educational materials.

Get a Bag of Love tote in hospital, filled with day to day necessities

Circle of Care aims to meet the needs of every newly diagnosed child as soon as they and their family reach the hospital.  Often, parents don’t even have time to grab a toothbrush, let alone their child’s favorite thing to comfort them.  A canvas tote filled with day-to-day necessities, comfort items, and vital resources helps to ease the transition and let each child and family know that they are not alone. 

Get a Comfort Backpack in hospital, with stuffed animal, books, and more

The Berni & Murcer - Friends for LifeTM "Comfort Backpack" program is designed to improve the child's overall social and emotional well-being towards his or her illness through the normalcy of childhood play.  Berni & Murcer - Friends for LifeTM interactive play manipulatives generate a renewal of inspired hope and energy in the child to fight his or her illness, gain the strength and desire to persevere through the rigors of treatment, and increase their coping ability to receive life enriching after-care. 

Have a place to relax in between appointments at Yale New Haven Hospital 

Ronald McDonald House of Connecticut offers families of sick or injured children a place to call home while their child is being treated at local medical facilities. Sometimes a family doesn’t need an overnight room, but can benefit from a place of respite to rejuvenate during a long surgery, or in between appointments. Our Respite Program offers a communal kitchen, coffee bar and snacks, private guestroom to nap, backyard and playground for day use only. 

In-hospital activities

Specially trained Circle of Care Volunteers at the Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital are there to provide support and much-needed diversions in the form of an activity or craft.

The Tommy Fund - Supplies games, crafts and resources to the Tommy Fund Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Center Child Life Team annually for use with its patients and families during clinic visits.

Yale New Haven Hospital offers Child Life, Arts for Healing (including art, music, and creative writing), Teen Center (ages 13+), and Support Dogs

Learn how to manage stress for blood cancer patients

"Managing Stress," from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: How stress affects you and ways to cope. Information about how stress affects you, and tips for stress management.


In support of mental and physical wellness of its patients, the Tommy Fund supplies reiki & hand/foot message to Tommy Fund Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Center patients, siblings and care givers on selected monthly dates while attending clinic.


The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society provides teddy bear covers for IV and feeding tube bags for blood cancer pediatric patients.

Mental and emotional support for teen and young adult patients at Connecticut Children's Hospital

The Reid R. Sacco Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program at Connecticut Children’s provides comprehensive cancer care for adolescents and young adults. We offer state-of-the-art medical care and support for the unique emotional and social needs of patients in this age group.

Peer support for blood cancer patients

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with a blood cancer, you may find it helpful to speak with someone who has gone through a similar experience and learned how to manage the same disease you're trying to cope with each day. The Patti Robinson Kaufmann First Connection® Program is a free service of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society that introduces patients and their loved ones to a trained peer volunteer who has gone through a similar experience.

Peer support from other families of current or former cancer patients

Lifeline is the Parent Community support network from Circle of Care that pairs survivor families with newly diagnosed ones. Families have the opportunity to talk with someone who truly understands what they are going through, easing the isolation and helping to create a sense of community through shared experience. The Lifeline Parent's role is not to offer medical advice, but rather to listen and offer comfort, hope, and practical strategies for coping with the daily demands that cancer treatment puts on all members of a family, and to respect your privacy and keep all conversations confidential.

The cancer Family Advisory Council at Connecticut Children’s is a voluntary group that includes family members of current or former cancer patients and medical professionals who care for children, adolescents and young adults with cancer. The Council provides insight, guidance and support to families undergoing cancer treatment, and works to continually improve the patient- and family-centered health care experience at Connecticut Children’s. 

The Tommy Fund - A resource for current care givers, siblings and newly diagnosed families undergoing treatment at the Tommy Fund Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Center through its vast network of childhood cancer survivors and through its social work team.

Post treatment support

Circle of Care - Offers respite and relaxation through the generosity of an anonymous donor, with a private home in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, for a chance to get away and reconnect as a family.

The Tommy Fund - Offers post treatment medical, emotional, financial support to childhood cancer survivors that have received treatment at the Tommy Fund Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Center, Smilow Cancer Yale New Haven and its affiliates through its partnership with the Pallative Care team, Social Work and the HEROS clinic. 

The Umbrella Club provides post treatment support, for caregivers of childhood cancer patients. 

Yale New Haven Hospital Social work offers emotional support for caregivers during post-treatment clinic visits. Referrals for community therapists are also provided if/when needed. HEROS clinic is available for survivorship care for patient.

Psychotherapy and mental health support for patients

From Yale New Haven Hospital, outpatient psychotherapy is available through a social worker and/or psychologist and is open to patients needing additional mental and emotional support. When indicated, psychiatry and access to mental health medication is also available.

The Tommy Fund - Offers respite and relaxation annually to Tommy Fund Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Center Ambassadors, through the generosity and partnership of an anonymous donor, to a private home in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, for a chance to get away and reconnect as a family when the time is right during the course of treatment or survivorship.

Sibling support

At Connecticut Children's, our psychosocial team offers patient, sibling and family support services and includes psychologists, social workers, child life specialists and a resource specialist. These care team members have special expertise in the social, emotional, and psychological aspects of caring for children, adolescents and young adults. Whether helping you find the information you need, providing coping strategies, ongoing therapy or introducing you to a network of support, our staff and services are available to help. Our cancer support services include sibling support.

Since 2009, Friends of Karen has been helping siblings to understand their sister’s or brother’s illness and to build personal strength. At the hospital or in a family’s home, our experienced child life specialists and creative arts therapists work one-on-one with the ill child, with siblings and with parents.

Try these activities if you are a sibling of a patient with cancer: Friends of Karen

Yale New Haven Hospital works to help siblings understand their brother/sister's diagnosis using a developmentally appropriate approach.

Support dogs while in hospital

Yale New Haven Hospital - The calming effect of pets can be a welcome distraction from your medical care. Trained volunteers can bring a canine friend by your room for a visit. These loveable, huggable dogs are screened and evaluated to ensure they are safe to be around patients, visitors and staff.

Support for each family member 

Friends of Karen offers individualized support for each family member from a team of skilled professionals, including social workers, child life specialists, and creative arts therapists to prepare them for and guide them through each challenge while their child is in treatment.

Support groups

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's support groups are the perfect place to talk with other people affected by blood cancers, including patients, family members and caregivers. The groups provide mutual support and offer the opportunity to discuss anxieties and concerns with others who share the same experiences. This sharing strengthens the family bond and enhances everyone's ability to cope with cancer.

Yale New Haven Hospital Child life and Social work collaborate to connect caregivers with each other for peer support.