Talking to doctors and nurses when you are a young carer
When you’re affected by cancer, you’ll probably meet a lot of doctors and nurses. This could be in the hospital, or at home.
Written by people who've been in your shoes
The advice in this section has been written by people who are under 18 and caring for someone with cancer. You can download their complete handbook - A guide for young people looking after someone with cancer [PDF, 2.52 MB].
In our A-Z of people you might meet we introduced you to pretty much everyone we could think of. You could take this booklet with you when you go to the hospital, so you can refer to it each time you meet someone new. It will help you understand their job and ask them the right questions.
If you want to know about the health of the person you’re caring for, doctors and nurses are the best people to ask. They are treating the person who has cancer, so they have all their medical notes. If they have permission from the person you’re caring for, it’s very likely they’ll be happy to talk to you.
I used to take a pen and paper to the hospital. If the doctor was too busy to talk to me, I would write down my questions and ask an adult to pass them on.
It can sometimes be difficult approaching a doctor or a nurse, because they might seem very important. But doctors and nurses are people, just like you are.
We found it useful to write down any questions we wanted to ask in a notebook, so we had them all ready to ask when we spoke to the doctor or nurse. If you feel shy or nervous, you can ask an adult to speak to the doctor or nurse for you.
I had to learn how to change my dad’s dressings. When she was showing us, the nurse talked to my mum – she didn’t speak to me.
Some of us found that the doctors and nurses talked directly to the adults, not to us. This was really annoying, as it made us feel like our questions,
thoughts and experiences didn’t matter. Here we were, helping care for someone with cancer, and we felt invisible. If you find this happening to you, speak up about it. Talk to an older family member, so that they know you’re feeling left out.
That way, they can try to include you next time the doctor or nurse comes around.
Who else can give you information?
There are other people who can tell you a bit more about cancer and its treatments. For example, the Macmillan Support Line has qualified cancer nurses on the end of the phone. They can talk you through things like chemotherapy, and let you know what to expect. If you’d like to speak to a nurse, call 0808 808 00 00.