A brain tumor is a serious condition. Until it is cured, you may not be able to do certain things that are part of your lifestyle. Each tumor occupies and affects different parts of the brain. Therefore, the list of difficulties caused by your tumor will be unique to you.
Begin by having a comprehensive discussion with your neurosurgeon or neurologist of what sorts of changes your tumor is likely to bring about. The location of a brain tumor gives very accurate information about what brain functions are at risk. Below are some of the issues you may need to address:
prevent many seizures, but because the tumor continues to grow, a given medication may work for only a short time. For this reason, you should not operate hazardous equipment, including motor vehicles. Many seizure medications are available. As you work with your physicians, expect to try different medications and combinations in order to find the most effective for each stage of your disease.
Managing Loss of Coordination or Function
If the tumor is near one of the areas in your brain that controls movement of a certain part of your body—such as hands, arms, legs, eyes, speech—normal function and coordination may be affected. Usual activities may become dangerous, such as working with power tools or knives.
can help regain certain functions. After treatment is completed, or at least well under way, you may start a program of speech, occupational, or physical therapy to work on recovering what has been lost.
Managing Cognitive Dysfunction
Thought processes such as memory, calculation, understanding, and intelligence may deteriorate until the tumor is treated effectively. Let those close to you know that you may have trouble in these areas. Ask them to be on the lookout for changes and to help minimize any consequences from these changes.
Managing Personality Change
In the same manner, your personality may change. If you feel comfortable doing so, advise your family, friends, and employer (if you are still working) of your condition. This may help to minimize misunderstandings.
Smoking is a known risk factor for many cancers. Although you may have already been diagnosed with cancer, it’s not too late to stop smoking. When you quit smoking, you reduce your risk of its many associated medical complications, which should improve your chances of withstanding the physical stresses of cancer and treatment. Also, since the immune system of smokers is generally less effective than non-smokers, by quitting you may be adding your immune system’s ability to join in the battle against cancer.
Ask your doctor about programs to help you stop smoking, such as group support, hypnosis, and alternative nicotine delivery systems.
For more information on quitting smoking,
Reduce Your Risk of Infection
To decrease your risk of infection, avoid exposure to bacteria and viruses:
Try to avoid crowds, especially during cold and flu season.
Ask your doctor about immunization against the flu and pneumonia.
Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Hand washing is the most effective method of decreasing the chance of catching colds and flu. You may wish to carry hand sanitizer with you for occasions when washing is not convenient.
For more information on washing your hands properly,
Follow a Nutritious Diet
Eating a healthful diet may help you avoid other medical conditions linked to poor nutrition. Because cancer itself and some cancer treatment may have a dulling effect on your appetite, it’s important that you make the most of the calories you do take in. Strongly consider consulting a registered dietitian (RD) to help you learn more about the best kinds of foods for you to eat, and how to eat other, less healthful foods in moderation. (Your doctor can refer you to an RD.) Avoid making drastic changes in your diet based on the latest fad diet or information that you have gotten form your local health food store, a neighbor or your favorite magazine.
For more information on eating a healthful diet,
Participate in a Reasonable Level of Exercise
If you have not been exercising regularly,
check with your doctor
to determine a safe exercise program under your current circumstances. Exercise has many benefits that may help you withstand the physical and emotional stresses of cancer and cancer treatment:
Promoting overall fitness
Boosting your energy level
Improving your immune system functioning
Bolstering your spirits and improving your emotional outlook
You may consider consulting a personal trainer to help you set exercise goals, and to safely follow through on initiating an exercise program.
While incorporating exercise, be sure to balance rest and activities to prevent becoming too tired.
For more information on starting a regular exercise program,
Rest When Tired
The treatments for cancer can add to the fatigue you already feel from fighting cancer. In fact, fatigue is the most frequently experienced symptom of cancer and cancer treatments. The fatigue you feel can range from "just feeling tired" to complete and utter exhaustion. Wherever in this range you fall, you may find your fatigue quite distressing and affecting your quality of life.
It is important to allow your body time to rest. This will help your body have the strength to heal itself. Studies have shown a relationship between fatigue and an increased morbidity of cancer and cancer treatments as a result of fatigue's adverse effect on appetite, diminished quality of life, and loss of hope.
To help you avoid getting overtired, try not to do too much. Prioritize the things you need to do, and focus on the most important ones. Also, allow others to help you with daily chores, shopping, and preparing meals. Plan times throughout the day when you can rest.
For information on getting a good night's sleep,
The diagnosis of cancer is life-defining event that is difficult to handle for anyone. Facing the uncertainty of a serious disease, feeling anxious about how you will feel during treatment, and worrying about the impact of both the diagnosis and treatment on your plans and your family and friends, can take a devastating toll that no one should have to tackle on their own. Give yourself permission to call on any helpful resources, including the following:
Empathetic support groups for people with your type of cancer
Professional support (social workers, psychologists, and/or psychiatrists who are trained to help support cancer patients and their families)
People who allow themselves to seek help while they are recovering from cancer can often maintain better emotional equilibrium, which will help them face the challenges of cancer and its treatment.
For more information on increasing your social support,
When to Contact Your Health Care Provider
It’s important that you don’t make major lifestyle changes without consulting your doctor, and verifying that you are proceeding safely. You are already being physically and emotionally challenged by the presence of cancer and the rigors of treatment. You and your doctor need to work together to make wise lifestyle choices and implement them in the healthiest way possible. Your doctor can provide referrals to an RD, personal trainer, therapist, and support group.
You should be in continual contact with your physician or surgeon throughout your evaluation and treatment. Report any new symptoms or changes in your abilities.
American Brain Tumor Association
The Whole Brain Atlas
[book on CD-ROM]. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 1999.
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine
, 14th ed. McGraw-Hill; 1998.
Cecil Textbook of Medicine.
Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company; 2002.
Conn’s Current Therapy,
54th ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company; 2002.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a