Support Tools: The Value of Support Systems

The way you feel can affect your experience and your quality of life along the brain tumour journey. Staying in touch with your feelings, seeking support when you need it and reaching out to people around you can help you cope along the way.

Feeling confident that you have others to talk to about difficult emotions is essential when coping with a brain tumour whether you are a patient, caregiver or family member. Expressing your emotions can*:

  • Decrease anger or feelings of hostility
  • Improve self-confidence and assertiveness
  • Improve feelings of empathy, interest, humour
  • Improve energy (decrease fatigue)
  • Improve overall quality of life

There are many ways to get the support you need. The challenge is acknowledging that you need support and accepting that you would like it. Many patients and family members already have people they can talk to and lean on – try to speak with these loved ones. Often patients and families would like to find people who understand their unique situation – you can seek them out. No matter what type of support you choose, the social connections gained are beneficial for you and those around you as you face the brain tumour journey together.

Support Groups
Support groups provide an opportunity for people affected by brain tumours to connect with others in a similar situation. Support groups serve several functions which include a means to speak with knowledgeable people (such as fellow patients, health care professionals and caregivers), a way to obtain education and information about the illness, and a place to gain emotional support and practical insight about the brain tumour journey. It is common for people attending support groups to build lasting friendships with other members.

Professional Counselling
Professional interventions like counselling offer personalized help in dealing with the emotional stressors and psychological symptoms (e.g. anxiety and depression) associated with a brain tumour. Speak to your health care team for referrals to counsellors in your community who have experience in helping people with brain tumour-related issues. Often the social worker or spiritual leader at the hospital or treatment centre where you receive care can offer guidance as well. The therapeutic relationship that develops in counselling can last for many years while providing a safe, confidential and non-judgmental space to work through emotional distress with a trained professional.

Supportive Relationships
There are a number of people who are directly affected by your brain tumour journey (family members, close friends and colleagues for example) and by letting them know what your are going through they will be better able to understand the stressors and changes you are experiencing. There may be certain groups of people in your life that you can talk to about different issues. Sharing your emotions with people you trust can help you feel better and the people you share with will feel good as they find ways to support you.

Keep in mind that a brain tumour diagnosis can be overwhelming news for the people in your life. Some will be more than willing to help, while others may withdraw due to the uncertainty around how they can help. When friends and family want to be involved, you may find it useful to put together a list of tasks that are easy to delegate and it is always helpful to be specific about your needs. People offering to help are eager to so something; by allowing them to be supportive they feel appreciated and you feel cared for. Drawing on the people you love reduces feelings of isolation and often relationships can be strengthened through the process of dealing with a crisis together.

*Source: Frankly Speaking about Brain Tumors, Chapter 5: Quality of Life, National Brain Tumor Society

 

For more information about support on the journey with a brain tumour, please contact us:

Cheryl Bauer
Support Services Specialist
cbauer@braintumour.ca
1-800-265-5106/ 519-642-7755 ext. 400

Todd Goold
Support Services Specialist
tgoold@braintumour.ca
1-800-265-5106/ 519-642-7755 ext. 237

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