Survivorship

The diagnosis of a brain tumour comes with very complex emotions and can have a significant impact on your life.

Learn more about returning to work, driving, and other ways that survivorship may impact your life.

We consider anyone who has had the words “You have a brain tumour” said to them, to be a survivor from the moment that they hear those words. It may take you longer to feel that way, and you may be happy, sad or guilty about being a survivor.

A new lifestyle

After diagnosis and treatment of a brain tumour, your thoughts may eventually return to resuming your normal lifestyle. Here are some things to bear in mind.

 

Memory Loss

Short-term memory loss is a frequent challenge reported by people diagnosed with a brain tumour. Often, it is attributed to radiation therapy; however, surgery, chemotherapy and the tumour itself may play a role. Some short-term memory loss will get better with time, but all too frequently it becomes a permanent reality of daily life.

There are many tools that can be used to help adapt to short-term memory loss:

  • Write things down, carry a pad and pencil in your pocket or purse.
  • Keep a pad of paper beside all telephones.
  • Use your smart phone’s voice recorder to make notes and memos on the fly
  • Keep a calendar or daily planner of your activities.
  • Put a blackboard in your kitchen.
  • Use an alarm clock, a watch alarm or a stove timer to remind you of a task.
  • Ask others to help you with reminders.

Returning to work

After diagnosis and treatment, patients are encouraged to have a conversation with their oncologist about returning to work. If you have difficulty performing your role at work, please discuss this with your oncologist as you may need to continue on disability. If you do return to work, we recommend speaking to your employer to see if arrangements can be made for your new situation, such as part-time hours or a change of job requirements.

If you find that returning to work is impossible, consider alternative activities that could be fulfilling.

Driving

When faced with the diagnosis and treatment of a brain tumour, a health care provider may assess any impact of the tumour on your ability to drive. According to guidelines set by The Canadian Medical Association, should a medical professional deem you are no longer able to operate a motor vehicle safely, your driver’s license is considered eligible for suspension.

Alternatively, a health care provider may choose to only advise you not to drive, rather than contact the province’s motor vehicle regulatory body and recommend your license be suspended.

While the challenge of not having a driver’s license can feel like a loss of independence, it is important to remember that license suspension is common for brain tumour patients to experience and that you may be eligible to get your license back after a period of time.

Learn more about factors that impact driving with a brain tumour by speaking with your health care team and/or consulting a representative at your local Ministry of Transportation office.

Travelling

If you are thinking of travelling out of province or internationally, make sure that you have insurance. With a pre-existing health problem, it may be challenging for you to be approved for medical insurance.

Talk to your doctor about your travel plans. If you are a patient and have been advised not to drive, you must take this seriously. And if you are a parent, the health care professionals on your team have an obligation to report your driving status to the Children’s Aid Society, should they feel they have cause. We encourage you to have an open and honest conversation with all your family members about driving.