Navigating Life with a Brain Tumor

May 1, 2013 at 10:34 am

Nav Life with a Brain TumorResearch indicates that individuals who know more about their medical conditions demonstrate better outcomes. To assist in that endeavor, the American Academy of Neurology offers Navigating Life with a Brain Tumor.

This thoughtful, compassionate book joins the reader on the journey from diagnosis to planning for the future. It covers basics of the brain, understanding brain tumors, treatment options, including radiation therapy and side effects, as well as lifestyle and symptom management, and care for the caregiver.

This physician-prepared guide provides medically authoritative and valuable advice that can be used numerous times as different issues arise: new questions, unfamiliar terminology, treatment options, or searching for inspiration from people who have faced the same issues.

It reviews the first step needed when facing a medical concern. Take a deep breath and remember you’re not alone.  Physicians and health care professionals are dedicated to providing expert assistance. Seek out information from your medical team, second opinions from other neuro-oncologists, reputable Internet sites, and local support groups that may supply additional information about new clinical trials and medications. Assemble your team of brain tumor specialists and keep a journal to record symptoms, treatments, and discussions with physicians and your healthcare providers. This diary will also assist you in recording questions between appointments.

Navigating Life with a Brain Tumor offers clear, easily understandable information for the layperson.  The chapter on basics of the brain describes how the brain is organized, why the location of the brain tumor matters, how tumors differ and their basic types, risk factors, common symptoms, and current technologies.

It also reminds the reader to be careful not to draw conclusions based on one specific symptom. The brain is a very complicated organ and development of a brain tumor may be accompanied by a variety of symptoms, depending on type and location.

In a precise, understandable way, brain tumors are described and classified, explaining the types that originate in the brain, whether benign or malignant, and those tumors that spread from elsewhere. Tumors are an abnormal collection of cells that multiply and may cause damage to surrounding tissue and involved organs. Brain cancer accounts for only 1.4 percent of all cancer cases, but is also one of the most difficult types to fight. Tumors are classified as either primary or secondary. Primary originates within the brain, while secondary or metastatic tumors originate elsewhere in the body, and then spread throughout the bloodstream to the brain.

Through technological advances in neuroimaging, medical experts are able to obtain more accurate information about tumor classification which provides clues regarding tumor type. This information will help to shape future treatment options and plans.

The chapter on lifestyle management reviews the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, reducing stress and increasing relaxation, discussion of complementary alternative therapies, cosmetic issues and balancing emotional, spiritual, and mental health.

Suggestions include rediscovering creative outlets or directing energy into new endeavors. Research shows that when the left side is the brain is compromised by dementia, strokes, or tumors, the right side can become more creative. Artistic approaches may offer an opportunity to bring up difficult topics and to participate more fully in recovery.

This comprehensive guide covers managing personal affairs, financial information, durable power of attorney, different types of trusts, and information about health care directives, as well as a guide to drugs prescribed for brain tumors and a helpful glossary for medical terms. Perhaps more importantly, it reminds readers to indulge in life’s pleasures, love and accept love in return, and find laughter and joy amid the difficulties.

Debbie Fuehrer, L.P.C.C.
Coordinator/Counselor-Mind Body Medicine

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