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Coping with brain tumours

Men and women discussing brain tumours

This page talks about coping with a diagnosis of a brain tumour. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Coping with brain tumours

It can be very difficult coping with a diagnosis of a brain tumour, both practically and emotionally. You are likely to feel very upset and confused. As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that the diagnosis brings, you have to work out how to manage practically. There may be money matters to sort out. Who do you tell that you have a brain tumour? And how do you find the words? There may be children to consider.

Most people find the thought of a brain tumour very frightening. But there are lots of different types of brain tumours and the likely outcome varies a great deal, depending on the type and grade of tumour that you have.

The coping with cancer section contains lots of information you may find useful. There are sections about

  • Your feelings
  • Talking to people: who and what to tell
  • Talking to children
  • How you can help yourself
  • Who else can help you
  • Financial support, including government benefits and charity grants

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Living with brain tumours section.

 

 

Coping with your diagnosis

It can be very difficult coping with a diagnosis of a brain tumour both practically and emotionally. At first you are likely to feel very upset, frightened and confused. Or you may feel that things are out of your control. It is very important to get the right information about the type of brain tumour you have and how it is best treated. People who are well informed about their illness and treatment are more able to make decisions and cope with what happens.

Don't be afraid to ask your doctor and nurses questions if you don't understand something. It isn’t always easy to remember what you want to ask. You may find it hard to remember what you have been told. It helps to write questions down. You can use the questions for your doctor pages for suggestions. You may want to print off pages of the website to take with you when you see the doctor. And don’t be worried about taking notes when you are given answers to your questions.

Brain tumours are also frightening because some people die from them. But there are lots of different types of brain tumours and the likely outcome varies a great deal, depending on the type and grade of tumour that you have. Many are curable. Some are controllable for years. Others can be treated, but are more quickly growing and very likely to come back.

Not everyone wants to know if their tumour is likely to cause their death or how long they are likely to live (their prognosis). If you do, (and you know what type of brain tumour you have) there is a page on the likely outcome of brain tumours in our treatment section that may help to give you an idea of what to expect. It can only ever be a guide. No statistics can tell you exactly what will happen to you. If you do want to know about your likely prognosis, the best person to discuss this with is your cancer specialist.

 

How a brain tumour may affect you physically

A brain tumour and its treatment may cause physical changes in your body. These changes can be very difficult to cope with and may affect the way you feel about yourself. Such body changes can affect your self esteem and the way you relate to other people, especially close family and friends. Our page about getting better after treatment for brain tumours discusses possible changes and how to cope with them. 

Another problem you may have to cope with is feeling very tired and lethargic a lot of the time, especially for a while after treatment or if the brain tumour is advanced. There is information about fatigue and cancer and treating cancer fatigue in the section about coping physically with cancer.

If you are having a sexual relationship, one or all of these changes may affect your sex life. There is information about how cancer can affect your sex life in the coping with cancer section.

 

Coping practically with a brain tumour

As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of a brain tumour brings, you may also have to work out how to manage practically. There may be money matters to sort out. You may need information about financial support, such as benefits, sick pay and grants.

Who do you tell that you have cancer? And how do you find the words? You may also have children to think about. We have information about talking to people about your cancer and how and what to tell children.

Try to remember that you don't have to sort everything out at once. It may take some time to deal with each issue. Do ask for help if you need it though. Your doctor or specialist nurse will know who you can contact to get some help. They can put you in touch with professionals who are specially trained in supporting people with cancer. These people are there to help and want you to feel that you have support. So use them if you feel you need to.

You may need to have access to support staff, such as a social worker or dietician. Social workers can help you with information about your entitlement to sick pay and benefits. If you live alone, a social worker may be able to help by organising convalescence when you first come out of hospital.

 

More about living with a brain tumour

The coping with cancer section contains lots of information you may find helpful. There are sections about

If you would like more detailed information about coping with a brain tumour, you can contact our cancer information nurses and they will be happy to help. 

You can also contact one of the organisations on our brain tumour organisations list. They often have free factsheets and booklets they can send to you. They may also be able to put you in touch with a support group. There is also a brain tumour reading list.

You can find details of counselling organisations, that can tell you about counselling and help you find sources of emotional support in your area.

If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use Cancer Chat, our online forum.

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Updated: 31 December 2013