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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Financial and legal support
Benefits and entitlements
If you are unable to work for a period of time because of the effects of a brain tumour, you and/or your carer may be entitled to receive income support from the Ministry of Social Development — Work and Income.
Sorted NZ life guide
The Cancer Society has partnered with Sorted NZ to produce a life guide to help navigate finances during a difficult time.
Access the Sorted life guide online
Talking to your bank
If you have a mortgage or other financial commitments, talk to your bank as soon as possible about how they can support you if you are unable to work for a period of time.
Personal insurance benefits
It is also a good idea to check your personal insurance policies, as you may be eligible for an early payment. Speak to your insurance agent to find out if you are covered.
Power of attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document giving one person the power to act for another person. There are two types of power of attorney:
- An Ordinary Power of Attorney
- An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)
It is a good idea to have your advance care planning done before you choose who you will give your powers of attorney to.
For more information, you can visit these websites:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.