Read about living well with a brain tumour, including finding body positivity, making lifestyle changes and accessing support in your community.

Download the whole brain tumour booklet

Our new booklet 'Understanding brain tumours' is available now.

Understanding Brain Tumours booklet 2022
Brain tumour cover 3 v7

Download Section Seven of our brain tumour booklet: Living well with a brain tumour

  • Finding ways to focus positively on your body — such as eating well,
    starting a new exercise programme, and making positive lifestyle
    changes — can help you live well with a brain tumour.
  • If possible, try to avoid going back to work too soon after treatment.
  • A counsellor can help you to talk about your feelings on the impacts a
    cancer diagnosis can have.
  • Hospitals throughout New Zealand have trained health workers available
    to support your spiritual, cultural, and advocacy needs.
  • Talk to your GP or whānau doctor, or your local Cancer Society, about the
    support services available for you and your family.
  • If you are caring for someone with a brain tumour, it is important to get
    some support for yourself. Talk to your GP or whānau doctor or phone
    0800 CANCER to talk to our information nurses about coping strategies.

  • Rapua ngā huarahi ki te arotau pai i tō tinana – pērā ki te kai pai, te
    tīmata i tētahi hōtaka korikori hou, me te whakamahi panoni pai ki tō
    toioranga – tērā ka āwhina i a koe ki te noho ora me te puku roro.
  • Mēnā ka taea, kaua noa iho e tere hoki ki te mahi whai muri i ō
    maimoatanga.
  • Tērā pea mā tētahi kaitautāwhi koe e āwhina ki te kōrero mō ōu kāre
    ā-roto e pā ana ki ngā papātanga ka puta nā runga i tētahi whakatau kua
    pā te matepukupuku.
  • Kua whai kaimahi ngā hōhipera huri noa i te motu, i ngā kaimahi hauora
    kua whakangungutia ki te tautoko ōu hiahiatanga wairua, hiahiatanga
    ahurea, hiahiatanga whaitaua.
  • Kōrero ki tō GP, tō rata ā-whānau, tō Kāhui Matepukupuku ā-rohe rānei
    mō ngā ratonga tautoko e wātea ana mōu me tō whānau.
  • Mehemea kei te tiaki koe i tētahi tangata kua pāngia ki te puku roro, he
    mea nui kia whai tautoko koe mōu ake. Kōrero ki tō GP, ki tō rata
    ā-whānau, me waea rānei ki: 0800 CANCER ki te kōrero ki ā mātou tapuhi mōhiohio e pā ana ki ngā rautaki whakapakari.
Section 7

Adjusting to change

You may have many adjustments to make, such as not driving, changing the work you do, or giving up work.

You may have to hand over tasks you used to do easily to others at work or within your whānau.

Finding ways to focus positively on your body — such as eating well, starting a new exercise programme like yoga, and making positive lifestyle changes — can help you live well with a brain tumour.

Find out more about living well with a brain tumour

Keeping active

Keeping active will help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress and tiredness.

It will also help to keep your bones strong and your heart healthy.

Walking is usually easy to build into your daily routine, or you may choose other activities like yoga or tai chi, which can help rebuild balance, muscle, and bone strength.

Find out more about keeping active

Returning to work

Depending on the type of tumour you have, and any ongoing effects you are experiencing, you may find it hard to return to work after treatment.

Consider talking to your employer. You might be able to work reduced hours, take regular short breaks, or have lighter duties.

There are employment services that specialise in helping people with health needs or disabilities to find work. Examples are Workbridge and ChoicesNZ

Find out more about returning to work

Finding support

For some people, meeting others in a similar situation can help decrease feelings of anxiety, isolation or fear.

Support groups offer you the opportunity to share your experiences and learn different ways of dealing with problems.

Counselling

A counsellor can help you to talk about your thoughts and feelings after a diagnosis of a brain tumour. Counselling can be very useful to help you and your whānau understand feelings and develop coping strategies.

 Find out more about counselling


You can phone the Cancer Information Helpline (0800 CANCER 226 237) for information about support services in your area.

Brain Tumour Support New Zealand has a service called Support Friends

Check out the online booklet Behaviour and Personality Change for information and coping tips.

Cultural and spiritual support

Hospitals throughout Aotearoa New Zealand have trained health workers available to support your spiritual, cultural and advocacy needs.

They may include Māori and Pacific health workers who will work with you and your whānau. Hospital chaplains and community-based health workers are also available.

Find out more about cultural and spiritual support

How whānau can help

As a friend or whānau member of someone diagnosed with a brain tumour, you are learning to cope with your own feelings and emotions.

You may want to help but not know what to do. Here are some suggestions that may be useful:

  • Learn about brain tumours and their treatment. This will help you understand what the person you are supporting is coping with.
  • Be thoughtful about offering advice. Listening while they talk or just being there with them are good ways to show you care.
  • Talk about your feelings together and be honest about what worries you.
  • Offer to go to appointments with them. You can be there for support, to take notes or, when appropriate, to take part in the discussions.
  • Respect that your whānau member or friend may want to talk to their treatment team alone.

We also have an online tool — Support Crew — to help you coordinate offers of help such as meals, childcare and cleaning.

Find out more about supporting someone with cancer

Caring for someone with a brain tumour

Supporting or caring for someone with a brain tumour can be challenging and tiring, and you may have to take on different roles within your whānau that are new to you.

There are community organisations and services that can support you and your whānau.

You could:

  • Try to get a good understanding of support services you can access for help. Local hospitals and hospices across New Zealand offer different services.
  • Check what extra services are available in your area, such as help with driving to treatment and medical appointments, online shopping (delivered or click and collect), gardening and childcare.
  • Keep a ‘to do’ list, such as for lawn mowing, shopping, and cleaning. Check out the Support Crew service or ask a friend to do this for you.
  • Suggest things that friends can do to give you a break, such as a coffee date, seeing a movie, going for a walk, or simply spending time together.
  • Find out how others manage in this situation — talk to other supporters, contact Carers New Zealand, Cancer Connect and Cancer Chat and Brain Tumour Support NZ's Support Friends
  • check out the online booklet Behaviour and Personality Change for information and coping tips.
  • Get some support for yourself. Counselling can be very useful to help you understand your feelings and develop coping strategies.
  • Talk to your GP or whānau doctor if you are feeling overwhelmed — it is important not to forget about your own health needs. Keep up your usual health checks, screening programmes and vaccinations.
  • Read A Guide for Carers. It has some good information on the help available for people who care for and support whānau with health conditions.

Taking a break

If you need to take a break from caring, talk to your GP or whānau doctor about respite care.

If you are eligible, they can refer you to a Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) service.

Find out more about respite care on the Ministry of Health website

Questions you may wish to ask

When you hear you have a brain tumour, you and your whānau may have many questions.

We have compiled a list of questions you may want to ask to help you make the most of your time with your doctor.

Let your doctor know if there are things you would prefer not to be told.

Find out more about questions you may wish to ask

Download the 'Questions you may wish to ask' booklet

Download the 'Questions you may wish to ask' information sheet

Last updated: June 27, 2022