What to Expect When You Have a Brain Tumor
Few things are more difficult to process emotionally than a brain tumor diagnosis. Depending on where your brain tumor is located and how quickly it is growing, you can expect changes to your personality, behavior, memory, and other things you consider integral to your sense of self. Many types of brain tumors are treatable, however, and you may even be able to expect some personality and behavioral changes to reverse themselves with time.
Your brain tumor and its treatment can also have physical side effects. Some of these changes can include fatigue, seizures, weakness and mobility problems. With time, you may recover from many of these changes, too.
Your Brain Tumor Might Affect Your Personality
Depending on its size, type, and location, a brain tumor can have a profound effect on your personality and behavior. A brain tumor in your frontal lobe, for example, could affect your intelligence, mobility, behavior, ability to use logic, personality, decision-making skills, judgment, moods, inhibitions, or planning abilities. A tumor in the temporal lobe could affect your memory, hearing, speech, vision, or emotions. Tumors in still other parts of the brain could affect everything from your involuntary bodily functions to your ability to read or hold a conversation.
Brain cancer treatment can relieve many of the symptoms of a brain tumor. Sometimes brain tumor symptoms begin to improve immediately, as the affected parts of your brain begin to regain function. Other times, however, it takes longer for symptoms to improve as other parts of your brain begin to take over the functions that the affected parts of your brain can no longer perform. You may experience some lasting effects.
Physical Consequences of a Brain Tumor
Treatment for a brain tumor can have its own side effects, such as fatigue. Targeted radiation therapy can help you achieve recovery with minimal side effects. However, your brain is the command center of your body, and you may continue to feel the physical consequences of a brain tumor for some time after you achieve remission. Some of the physical effects of a brain tumor include:
- Weakness on one side of the body, or in one limb
- Mobility problems
- Trouble understanding language or carrying on a conversation
There are many types of brain tumors and no two cases are the same. Your doctor can give you a clearer picture of what physical complications you can expect.
Many people experience fear, anxiety, grief, and other powerful emotions after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. Even people who have successfully recovered from a brain tumor might experience lingering anxiety or depression due to the lasting complications of the tumor. If your brain tumor has made it difficult to carry on a conversation, you may try to cope by avoiding social contact. Anxiety and depression about neurological changes can make them seem worse than they are, however, and make it harder to cope.
Occupational therapy and speech or language therapy can help you regain your practical abilities, but psychotherapy may be necessary to help you cope emotionally with the ramifications of your brain tumor. Make sure you find a therapist who has experience working with brain tumor patients.
A brain tumor diagnosis can cause some unexpected and often frightening changes in your personality and behavior as well as your physical and cognitive abilities. But the brain is a remarkable organ, and with treatment, many people are able to regain most or all of their former abilities.