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Coping with brain tumours

Find out what you can do, who can help and about how to cope with a diagnosis of a brain tumour.

Coping with your feelings

Finding out you have a brain tumour can feel overwhelming, as though things are out of your control.

You are likely to have a range of emotions that change very quickly. You might feel upset, frightened and confused. One day you might feel positive and able to cope but the next day feel the exact opposite. This is natural.

Counselling can help you to cope with the difficulties you’ll face. It can help to reduce your stress and improve your quality of life.

Coping with your diagnosis

There are lots of different types of brain tumour and the likely outcome varies greatly, depending on the type and grade of the tumour that you have. Many are curable. Others can be controlled for many years. Some tumours grow quickly and are likely to come back, despite treatment.

Not everyone wants to know if their tumour is likely to cause their death, or how long they are likely to live (their prognosis).

Statistics can be useful, but cannot tell you exactly what will happen to you. The best person to do this is your cancer specialist. Talk to your specialist if you want to know about your likely prognosis. 

Helping yourself

You are more able to cope and make decisions if you have information about your brain tumour and its treatment. Information also helps you to know what to expect.

Taking in information can be difficult at first. Make a list of questions before you see your doctor. Take someone with you to remind you what you want to ask and help remember the answers.

Ask your doctors and nurses to explain things again if you need them to.

Remember, you don’t have to sort everything out at once. It might take some time to deal with each issue. Ask for help if you need it.

Treatment causes side effects. These can be mild or more severe. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have any or if they get worse. They can treat them and help you find ways of coping.  

Talking to other people

Talking to your friends and relatives about your brain tumour can help and support you. But some people are scared of the emotions this could bring up and won’t want to talk. They might worry that you won't be able to cope with your situation.

It can strain relationships if your family or friends don't want to talk. But talking can help increase trust and support between you.

Help your family and friends by letting them know if you would like to talk about what’s happening and how you feel.

You might find it easier to talk to someone outside your own friends and family. For example your specialist nurse, or other people in a similar situation to you. You could join a support group, or contact one of the brain tumour charities.

You can call the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Coping practically

Practical things you and your family might need to cope with include:

  • money matters
  • financial support, such as benefits, sick pay and grants
  • work issues
  • childcare

Talk to your doctor or specialist nurse to find out who can help. Getting help early with these things can mean that they don’t become a big issue later.

Information and help

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.