When Someone You Love Has Brain Cancer


When caring for someone who has undergone brain surgery, practice patience and ask for support.

Patience Patience. Practice patience. Patients might struggle with speech, memory and thinking after brain surgery. Most will improve with time, but it’s easy to become frustrated with the pace of their healing and any limitations they could experience. Caregivers should take a break when they begin to feel frustrated.

Get help. “You cannot take care of someone 24 hours a day,” says Nancy Staton, a neurosurgery nurse coordinator at the University of Virginia Cancer Center. Caregivers should accept all offers of help and not be afraid to reply with specifics when someone says, “What can I do?” Friends and family members can help with household chores and errands.

Take a break. “A [caregiver] who is constantly in that role is going to burn out pretty quickly,” says Michael O’Dell, chief of clinical services in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and medical director of the Inpatient Rehabilitation Medicine Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. “You have to take care of yourself if you’re going to take care of your loved one. Go out and do something you enjoy—see a movie, go bowling, take a nap, recharge.”

Connect with other caregivers. It can be helpful for caregivers to talk to someone who’s already experienced what they’re going through. Imerman Angels (imermanangels.org) can connect caregivers with a mentor, another caregiver with experience caring for someone who’s had brain surgery.

[Read more on recovering from brain surgery]

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