Responding to childrens’ questions about cancer: a communications training for clinical staff

Dr Sarah Herlofsen, author of children’s books and member of our board of trustees, has made it her heart’s desire to support children and families affected by cancer.


She passed on her experiences to us as part of a communications training course aimed at nursing staff and other clinic employees who have direct patient contact. Under the title “Talking about cancer with children using images”, her lecture offers approaches to address children’s questions in an objective, informative and easily understandable way. It provides child-friendly explanations of what actually happens to the body in the event of cancer and how therapies can help. Even difficult topics such as fears, feelings of guilt and dying are not left out. She works with images to communicate at child level and to encourage little ones to talk about the disease.


Her audience – today she speaks in the seminar room of the University Hospital in Mainz – works with children who suffer from cancer and their families. They provide not only nursing and medical care, but accompany the families also in socio-pedagogical, psychological, therapeutic and other ways. Regardless of the years of experience, everyone nods their heads in agreement with what is said, and the room becomes very quiet. Personal dialogues with the little patients and parents are buzzing around in their heads. The lecture is concluded with a Q&A and discussion, which shows that the communication coaching offers new impetus for working with the children. And the certainty that not all children’s questions have to be answered by adults. But we can support the children to find their own answers.


You can read more about this topic in the book “Wie ist das mit dem Krebs?” by Dr. Sarah Herlofsen, published by Gabriel Verlag.