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"My dad has blood cancer and I'm worried about going to school."

Our Support Services Team is here to support people with anxieties like this - we may not be able to make them go away entirely but we can help you to manage them. Whatever you're worried about, give us a call to talk things through.

Page updated 1 March 2021

Your question:

My dad has blood cancer and he’s mainly staying at home. Last time schools were open, I felt really worried and guilty about going in and now those feelings are back. My dad says it's fine and I need to go to school and see my friends, but I’m not sure. I generally try not to get too close to anyone, but my friends don’t get it and think I’m being weird. I don’t want to go near my dad in case I get coronavirus and infect him. What can I do?

https://media.bloodcancer.org.uk/images/Bav_screen_in_shot.2e16d0ba.fill-530x395.jpg

Our answer:

This must be very difficult for you. It is worrying to have a parent who's at risk from coronavirus and your feelings about that are completely understandable. But it’s really important for your own wellbeing and education to be at school. It sounds like your dad appreciates that.

It’s important to talk to your dad about this. Tell him how you feel and ask him to be honest about his level of risk. Is he clinically extremely vulnerable – has he been advised to shield (stay at home)? Many people with blood cancer are in the clinically extremely vulnerable group, but not everyone. It depends on the person and the particular type of blood cancer they have. If he is clinically extremely vulnerable, he should have been offered the coronavirus vaccine a while ago. The vaccine may not work as well as it would for someone who doesn’t have blood cancer, but doctors think it will give some protection, and more after a second dose. You might want to read our information about the coronavirus vaccine to find out more about who can get it and how its effectiveness in people with blood cancer is being monitored.

If your dad’s not sure himself about his level of risk from coronavirus, or whether he should have the vaccine, ask him to speak to his healthcare team and include you in the conversation, if he’s comfortable with that.

Tell your friends about your worries

With your friends, talk about why you’re being more cautious than them, and come up with a plan for how to mix with them safely. Could you spend your break times with one or two people at a time only? Are they happy to wear their face masks when you can’t stay a metre apart? Your friends should be more supportive if you tell them why you’re worried and what your boundaries are. If you don’t feel happy about a social situation in or out of school, say so and explain why you're worried.

Find out how your school can help

Does the school know about your dad’s situation? Have you spoken to any of your teachers about your worries? It’s really OK to ask questions about what the school’s doing to lower the risk of infection, and ask if there’s anything else they can do to help. Depending on where you live, schools may be testing staff and some or all students, in school or through home testing kits. The aim is to pick up people who have coronavirus but don’t have any symptoms. If testing happens in your school, it might help you feel more confident about being around others.

We have more information to help you understand the risk of coronavirus in schools.

Help protect your dad

Remember there are some simple things you can do to protect your dad. Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitiser when you can’t wash. Keep your hands away from your face as much as possible. Wear a face mask when you’re inside as well as outside, if you can. Try to stay a metre away from other people – this can be difficult so you can only do your best. Think about changing your clothes when you get home from school and keeping your school clothes separate from the ones you wear at home.

Find out more about supporting someone with blood cancer. Here's our full list of questions on topics you may find helpful.

Dawn, support line worker

Worried about anything or have questions?

If you have any questions, worries, or just need someone to talk to, please don't hesitate to contact our Support Services Team via phone or email.

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