Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Victoria Croog.
Coping with brain cancer is hard, no matter how you slice it. It is expected that patients with brain cancer will undergo extreme amounts of anxiety and stress related to their diagnosis and the symptoms related to the diagnosis and treatment. But brain cancer is not just challenging for the patient who has it; it is also a challenging time for a loved one supporting them. While the condition has an effect on their mood and can change their personality, you might be struggling to maintain your mental health as you cope with these shifts. Check out our collection of real life brain cancer personal stories to hear from people facing the same challenges as you, and read ahead for a few ideas on how to better handle your current challenge:
Be patient. It’s important to be patient not just with your loved one who is suffering, but also with yourself while you are coping with brain cancer. It might take time to re-establish boundaries in the relationship and cope with the shifting dynamics, but be gentle to yourself. When you’re struggling, look at old pictures and remind yourself of the qualities that you love and admire in your friend or loved one. Reminding yourself of your love for them can keep you grounded even when things are feeling out of control and ultimately different than they had been. If you need to take space away from your loved one to re-calibrate, don’t be afraid to take that space. Beating brain cancer is a joint effort, so as they say “secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.” There are medical alarm systems that you can set in place so that they have access to medical treatment if you’re not able to offer 24/7 support.
Journal. Journaling through your experience can help give you clarity on the situation, your emotions, and your changing needs. This is a traumatic time for both you and your loved one, so don’t feel guilty about having mixed feelings and needing additional support for yourself. Websites like 750words.com will analyze the words that you’re writing and provide additional insights about your moods based on the words you’ve used. This could also help you keep track of any dramatic changes in your loved one’s behavior so you can better consult a doctor about what’s going on when necessary.
Check medications. Some anti-seizure medications like keppra (levetiracetam) and anti-inflammatory drugs like dexamethasone can be known to create agitation. Talk to your loved one about visiting the doctor to explore other options if the agitation that they are experiencing is impacting their everyday life and relationships. Unfortunately, beating brain cancer isn’t a one size fits all approach so it may take some work to get medications right.
Consider other symptoms. Check in with your loved one about his or her other symptoms. Someone with brain cancer could be irritable because of headaches, or suffering from mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. There may be other medications and solutions that you can present to lessen the impacts of brain cancer.
- Find a community. It’s important that you have people outside of your relationship with your loved one that you can lean on as you are both coping with brain cancer, especially during this time. Maybe you need professional help like a counselor, or maybe you need friends experiencing the same thing. Services like GetCerebral and Better Help provide online counseling that is easy to access from the comfort of your own home. There are also many cancer support networks like ours where you can connect with others who are also experiencing brain cancer. Check out our themed chats and real brain cancer personal stories to meet people just like you.