A family’s world is turned upside down the moment they learn their child has a life-threatening illness. The stresses of living with a seriously ill sister or brother can cause a variety of reactions in children, who experience the dramatic changes in their family life, but may have difficulty coping with them.

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 to:

  • Enable the child to identify feelings and fears, and find a successful way to cope with them.
  • Educate the children about the disease and what to expect during treatment, to improve their understanding and ability to cope.
  • Encourage family dialogue about the challenges of caring for a child with a life-threatening illness.
  • Make use of specially-designed tools -- such as our Sharing Box, Worry Stones, Family Journal kits — to foster communication between family members.

We interviewed some Friends of Karen siblings about their experiences. Read their insights and good advice in From Siblings, For Siblings.

The Adina’s Angels Fund

In February 2010, Paula Berkowitz’s husband died of non-smoker’s lung cancer.  A few months later, her son Justin died unexpectedly. Just two weeks after that, her 17-year-old daughter Adina lost a four-year battle with leukemia.

Paula was determined to make something good come out of all this. Because Friends of Karen had assisted the family throughout their ordeal, she established The Adina’s Angels Fund at Friends of Karen to help other families caring for a child with a life-threatening illness. The fund particularly strengthens our ability to provide services that help siblings.

To make a gift to The Adina's Angels Fund, click here.