Support & Recovery
After treatment for a brain tumor, it's important to take care of yourself. Support groups and specially trained professionals can get you started on the journey back to wellness and help you celebrate your daily successes. And by keeping up with follow-up visits and medical care, you’ll make sure your health needs continue to be met.
Whatever your individual requirements may be, Cedars-Sinai can offer a full range of resources to help you regain self-sufficiency and a higher quality of life.
Recovery from brain tumor treatment happens differently for different patients. Your doctor and care team will create a customized plan based on your physical condition, the type of treatment and other factors.
If you don't already have one, call the Cedars-Sinai Department of Neurosurgery at 310-423-7900 or your doctor's direct line to make your first follow-up appointment after you get home from the hospital. When you’re there, you can ask about other appointments you’ll need to make.
Your care will probably include regular physical exams, medical tests or both. Over time, your medical team will manage any side effects, monitor your health and do testing to make sure that the tumor hasn’t returned.
Your medical team will tell you about side effects and symptoms to watch out for while you’re recovering from surgery or other brain tumor treatment. But be sure to call your doctor immediately if you (or a loved one you're caring for) experience any of the following:
- Your incision comes open/drainage from the incision
- New difficulties seeing or hearing
- Confusion or trouble remembering things
- Difficulty talking
- Fainting or seizures
- Weakness in the arms or legs, or trouble walking
- Tingling or numbness in the face, arms or legs
- More or worse headaches than usual
- Unusual sensitivity to light, a stiff neck or a fever higher than 100.5 F
- Major changes in mood or behavior
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty urinating or inability to control urination or bowel movement
- A red, swollen or painful calf
- Unusual fatigue or difficulty waking up
Reasons for you or your loved ones to call 911 include:
- Trouble breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Sudden chest pain
- Difficulty thinking, moving, seeing or speaking
- Multiple seizures
As you continue with your recovery, physical, occupational and speech therapists at Cedars-Sinai can help you regain strength and mobility and get back to your daily life:
- Physical therapists help improve your walking, balance and strength. They can also provide exercises to increase range of motion and decrease pain.
- Occupational therapists provide you with techniques and equipment to manage daily activities, such as getting dressed, cooking meals or driving.
- Speech therapists help patients overcome problems with language and speaking, as well as eating and swallowing.
It's important to have help with everyday tasks and personal care. If you don't have family members or friends to do this, you can hire an in-home care attendant through a community agency. Insurance typically doesn’t cover this cost.
If you have young children, you may not be able to look after them immediately after returning home. Make sure to have a childcare plan in advance, so you can get the rest you need.
You may feel embarrassed to request help from friends and family—or to accept it when they offer—but in most cases, they'll be happy to provide any assistance you need. Letting others take over some tasks can be beneficial to your recovery, and it can also give your primary caregiver a much-needed break.
Here are some specific things you can ask them to do:
- Attend follow-up appointments with you, to take notes and ask questions
- Drive you home from the hospital (if you’re able to sit up)
- Bring you meals
- Help organize child care
- Keep you company at home
- Do household chores, such as watering plants or taking out the garbage
Mind Your Wellbeing
It's important both for you and your loved ones to have support as you recover from tumor treatment. You may need assistance in dealing with any emotional issues that come up, managing stress, adapting to what may be changing life circumstances and communicating with your family.
To help patients and their families cope with possible emotional and cognitive changes after treatment for a brain tumor, the Cedars-Sinai Department of Neurosurgery offers psychological services.
- Teaching stress reduction and relaxation
- Screening for neuropsychological issues
- Therapies for health-related anxiety and depression
- Help coping with disability
- Help communicating with others after neurological changes
You can share experiences, get answers to questions and learn more about treatment options at the Cedars-Sinai Brain Tumor Educational Support Group. Open to patients, family members and caregivers, the group meets quarterly. For more information, contact Joseph Recinos at 310-423-0821, or email email@example.com.
Albert Parisi has been a brain cancer survivor for more than 2 decades, since he underwent treatment at Cedars-Sinai in 1994. Find out what he credits for his longevity, and why he never lost his positive attitude.