Being diagnosed with a brain tumour can be a traumatic experience, and it can bring a rollercoaster of emotions. Everyone will have different ways of dealing with it, whether they prefer to reach out to family and friends or process events by themselves.
Even after a brain tumour has been treated with a method such as Gamma Knife radiosurgery, chemotherapy, or neurosurgery, you will need to have regular follow up appointments to check how you are feeling and possibly if there is any sign that the tumour is returning or growing.
The regularity of your follow up appointments will depend on the type of brain tumour and what grade it is, and what treatment you have had. At the appointment, you will normally meet with a doctor or nurse to talk about how you are getting on, and if you are experiencing any side effects from the treatment.
You may also have blood tests and MRI scans to check if the tumour is regrowing or has come back. For many people, attending a follow-up appointment can understandably be an anxious or stressful time. Visiting the hospital may bring back unpleasant memories, and the person may have concerns about what the MRI results will show.
It’s important to remember that the point of the follow-up visit is to make sure that your health is keeping on track and that your recovery process is the best it can be. Attending the appointments promptly means that any concerns can be addressed and problems dealt with before they have a chance to escalate.
It can help to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the appointment beforehand. It is useful to write down any questions or concerns you want to address in advance, because it can be easy to forget when you are feeling slightly overwhelmed or anxious. It’s important to be honest and accurate about any new symptoms or health worries you have.
If you are finding it hard to cope emotionally or psychologically, you should also discuss this with the nurse or doctor, because they may be able to help by referring you to a counsellor or psychologist. It can be very helpful to take someone with you for support, and to help remember to ask all the relevant questions and retain the information you are given.
If you do feel anxious or depressed about upcoming appointments, remember that you are coping with a difficult situation and it is perfectly normal to feel the way you do. Remember that your medical team will want to help you and bottling up your feelings can make things worse.
A counsellor can help by sorting out complicated feelings and helping you to gain some perspective and insight into how you are really feeling. They can also help you to express your emotions, and to think about the best way to solve problems or accept a situation that cannot be changed.