Cali enjoys drawing and taking selfies
Sibling of the Month - June 2019
Cali, Age Five

Some of the children we work with at Friends of Karen have what is called magical thinking. Magical thinking is the belief that one's own thoughts, wishes, or desires can influence the external world. It is common in very young children and most prominent in children between ages two and seven. A four-year-old might think that because he was mad and tripped his little sister, it is his fault she has cancer.  By providing emotional support and illness education, Friends of Karen Sibling Support Specialists help clarify this sometimes heartbreaking and very scary situation, helping to make room for more cuddles, hugs and fun within the families.           

Our Sibling of the month, Cali, age five, loves her family, swimming in her pool, watercolor paints, sparkly stickers and “Frozen” princesses Anna and Elsa. Her youngest brother, Lincoln, age one, was diagnosed with ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Lincoln had to spend 24 days in the hospital when first diagnosed, which meant Cali missed him and her parents very much. 

Interviewed by Friends of Karen Creative Arts Specialist Siobhan, please read the fabulous Cali’s story, in her very own words, below:

Tell me about your family…

There are my brothers Lincoln and Owen, mommy and daddy and me. I’m the leader!

What makes your family so special?

We love each other and have a beautiful house.

Who has cancer in your family?

Lincoln. He’s my baby brother. When he first got sick he “throwed” up a lot and that was disgusting! I thought the cancer was in his belly because he “throwed up” all the time. Now I know it is in his blood. I know about red blood cells and white ones and the ones that help with cuts.

Did you think you could catch his cancer?

I thought I had it in my ear. Like a bubble in my ear, but it was just allergies. Mommy got me medicine for that.  If you touch someone with cancer – NO! - You can’t catch cancer.

When Lincoln first got sick (diagnosed) mommy and daddy were in the hospital a lot. How did you feel?

Sad and really mad. I missed mommy and Lincoln and daddy. I felt better when they came home.

What is your favorite thing we’ve done together?

I love when we paint together.

What is your favorite thing about your brothers?

When they play with me.

If you met another child who has a brother or sister who is very sick and they feel sad, what would you say to them?

Don’t worry, maybe they will come home soon. Remember to share what you are feeling inside or you might EXPLODE!


Adults are often surprised about how much the youngest siblings interpret, absorb and view a serious illness in the family. Younger children frequently think their sibling’s serious illness is contagious, especially with all the reminders for them to wash their hands.  Young children might become afraid that they can catch the disease or even worse, that they somehow gave their sibling cancer or another disease. They may be afraid to get close to their ill sibling or think if they themselves get sick with something as common as a cold, they will have cancer too.