Coping with changes

As you recover from treatment, you may have to adjust to some changes. These may be caused by the treatment you have had or the tumour. They can improve over time as the body heals but sometimes they are permanent. Your doctor will explain more about this.

Changes may include:

  • tiredness that may make it difficult to do everyday tasks
  • problems with thinking, memory or concentration
  • mood changes such as anxiety or depression
  • personality changes that make you react or behave in a way that seems out of character
  • physical changes that affect how you feel about your body.

Some of these may be challenging to cope with. There are ways that you can help yourself. There is also specialist support that may help.

Always let your doctor or nurse know if you, or people close to you, notice changes. They can give advice and support. They may arrange specialist support if you need this.

Tiredness

You are likely to feel tired for some time after treatment. This usually gradually gets better but some people have on-going problems with tiredness. It can make it difficult to do even simple everyday tasks. It may also affect how you feel physically and emotionally.

There are ways you can manage this. We have more information on coping with fatigue. Let your healthcare team know if fatigue is affecting you.


Thinking, mood or personality

Some people may have changes to how they think or behave but this doesn’t affect everyone. These changes can improve over time as the brain heals. In some people, they may be permanent. Your doctor will explain more about your situation.

Some people may find it hard to think clearly, concentrate or remember things. Others may react or behave in a way that can seem out of character.

Some people find they have difficulty getting started on any activity (your motivation). Although this type of change isn’t always so obvious, it can have a big effect. You may find it hard to organise your day, get things done or arrange activities like meeting friends or exercising.

With any of these changes it can help to follow a daily routine. Try to get enough sleep too. Using calendars, personal organisers, pill boxes, checklists and alarms can help with memory problems. If you have difficulty thinking clearly or making decisions, you may be able to have therapy to help with this. This is called cognitive re-training.

Always tell your healthcare team if you notice changes to your thinking, mood or personality. There are things they can do to help. They may arrange for you to see an occupational therapist, neuropsychologist or psychiatrist. This can help you find ways of improving or coping with changes. Or if drug side effects are making things worse, your doctor may be able to change the dose or drug.

Depression or anxiety can also make it harder to cope. We have more information on depression.


Body image

Sometimes treatment or the brain tumour can affect your appearance. Some changes are temporary and some are permanent. Changes may include:

  • scars from surgery
  • hair loss
  • weight gain
  • loss of fitness
  • changes in movement, balance or co-ordination
  • changes in speech.

Your specialist doctor or nurse will talk to you about possible changes before treatment starts. There’s no right or wrong way to feel about a change to your body. You may find a physical change doesn’t upset you at all. In fact, some people come to see a body change as a sign of their survivorship. Or you may find that even a small change in your appearance makes you feel less confident.

Sometimes these feelings can become very difficult to cope with. Some people are so anxious or depressed about body changes that they avoid some situations. If you’re worried about this, talk to your nurse or doctor.

We have more information about body image. You may also find our booklet Body image and cancer helpful. It has advice and tips for coping with body changes and information about more support.

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