Living with a brain tumour

    • Brief

    • Having a brain tumour can be scary and may change your life. It is a long-term illness if surgery is impractical the cancerous cells may spread to other parts of your body.

      Treatment, when feasible, may include surgery, radiation therapy and medication. Your diagnosis can impact your physical and mental health and may have an impact on your finances as well.

    • When you get the diagnosis

    • Your diagnosis may have come as a rude shock, and you may first struggle with disbelief and denial. This reaction is common but one that you must deal with immediately. Talk to your healthcare provider about your beliefs and concerns, and remain open-minded to consider their opinion.

      You may also experience anxiety, this is normal. Worrying consistently about the future may make you miss out on the present. Focus on today and accept the support from friends and family with gratitude.

    • Work and your health

    • Following diagnosis and care, you may resume work depending on the advice of your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may advise you to no longer operate machinery or to take a less active role in business activities. This can be due to the symptoms of your tumour or to the side-effects from your treatment.

      When you resume work, make sure that you prioritise your health. Make time for appointments with your healthcare provider and support group meetings. 

    • Diet and nutrition

    • Eat healthily and make sure your meals have a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, oils and other requirements. Include plenty of fruits, nuts and vegetables in your diet. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and micronutrients that you may not get from other food sources.

      A healthy diet will strengthen your body and protect you on days when there are symptom flare-ups. Proteins will support your body to continue building and replacing worn-out tissues and muscles with healthy ones.

      Eat more whole grains, like brown rice (ofada) and foods rich in fibre (like beans and watermelon). Their energy is released over a more extended time. Your body also uses more energy in breaking down whole grains, so you end up with less energy stored as fat.

      Your body uses fats and oils to repair damaged nerves and supply energy. Focus on ensuring you include a sufficient amount of essential oils and fat in your diet.

      Drink up to 3 to 4 litres (about 5 to 8 sachets) of water daily. Remember to drink water when doing strenuous physical activity or working under the sun for extended periods. If your treatment makes you vomit, you should not stop taking water; you can improve your hydration by drinking oral rehydration solution (salt, water and sugar solution).

    • Physical activity

    • Increasing your physical activity can help you build some stamina to deal with your treatment. Speak to your healthcare provider about when you can begin to exercise again. Some of the activities you can do may include walking, running, lifting weights and riding a bicycle. Usually, moderate exercise that you can tolerate should be fine. You can start with mixed routines of walking and running and gradually increase the intensity over weeks to months.

    • Support from family and community

    • The emotional impact of your diagnosis may come over an extended period or at once. It can include shock, denial, anger, guilt, anxiety and depression. It's your mind trying to process the information aboit your disease and finding a way to cope. Try to acknowledge these emotions and, where possible, talk about them.

      Your healthcare provider may be able to put you in touch with a group of people with the same or similar condition. Activities in these communities can be physical meetings or online events (including whatsapp groups). The group will usually have sessions where you can talk about your experiences and learn from others.

      Friends and family can be an essential resource for you. They can provide support in many ways, including helping you out with tasks and house chores.

    • Financial Impact

    • Healthcare in Nigeria is mainly paid for out of pocket. Paying for healthcare can easily take up most of your income or even deplete your savings. Apart from the treatment that may be costly, most people with a brain tumour experience long-term implications beyond the disease. Health insurance can minimise the effects of unplanned medical costs on your finances. Consider buying a health insurance cover to help you reduce this impact while you are healthy.

    • Kulawa cares

    • A brain tumour may also come with some symptoms that remain as long as the brain tumour is there, like headaches or vomiting. Your healthcare provider will try to help you relieve your symptoms as best as possible. If there are any new symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider about them.