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Coping With Treatment

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A meningioma is a tumor that forms in the meninges, the layers of tissue surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. Meningiomas are typically not cancerous and may not cause symptoms until they've gotten large enough to press on nearby structures such as the brain or spinal cord.

While meningiomas are treatable, getting a diagnosis can be difficult to deal with. Moreover, patients may not expect that meningioma treatments can be physically and emotionally challenging.

Through the course of your meningioma treatment journey, you may find yourself dealing with feelings such as numbness, anxiety, anger, sadness and confusion. Treatment for meningioma also comes with physical side effects.

Meningioma Treatments: What to Expect

Treatments for meningioma can result in changes to your body and affect how you feel. However, patients often react differently to the same kind of meningioma treatment.

As a result, it is common for people undergoing treatment to be anxious over treatment-related side effects. However, your doctor and the rest of your healthcare team will include care specifically to minimize side effects in your treatment plan.

A supportive care approach entails preventing and managing the adverse effects of meningioma and its treatment. This includes physical and emotional symptoms as well as other side effects.

Meanwhile, palliative care is specialized care that focuses on relieving patients from symptoms and improving their quality of life. Palliative care is often mistakenly used synonymously with end-of-life care but can be given at any stage of a serious illness.  Palliative care can be given alongside treatment intended to address the benign tumor.

During a conversation with your doctor or healthcare team, you can ask them for more information about the steps they will take to minimize the side effects of your treatment. Taking notes during your visit may be helpful in remembering the essential facts.

Understanding your treatment plan can help you feel more in control of your treatment journey. It may help alleviate your concerns and reduce some of the anxiety or fear you may feel over treatment-related side effects.

Coping With the Physical Effects of Treatment

The physical side effects of treatment depend on the type utilized by your doctor and healthcare team. Additionally, other factors, such as your general health and the grade of the tumor, may influence the symptoms you experience and their severity.

Typical treatment for meningioma is surgery to remove the entire tumor or, if not possible, as much of it as can be safely removed without causing more side effects to the patient. Sometimes, some of the surrounding healthy tissue may also need to be removed during surgery.

After surgery, some patients may experience symptoms caused either by their medications or the surgery itself. It is also possible for brain surgery patients to develop neurologic problems after the procedure, such as:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision problems
  • Speech problems
  • Headaches
  • Seizures

You can do many things to help cope with these physical side effects. Some examples are:

  • Following post-surgery instructions: It is essential to follow the instructions provided by your doctor. These may include taking care of the wound, restricted activities, and taking certain medications. Following these instructions helps support your body's healing processes and minimize the risk of complications.
  • Get plenty of rest: Resting often and getting enough sleep are essential for healing and recovery.
  • Seek physical therapy: A physical therapist may help you address some of the physical side effects of brain surgery and help you regain lost functions. For instance, they can help you improve your coordination and regain your strength. They can also help you adapt to any long-term changes to your mobility brought about by brain tumor surgery.

Coping With the Emotional Side Effects of Treatment

Having a meningioma removed can be an emotional experience. You may feel fearful after surgery at the thought of a recurrence, anxious over the possibility of a misdiagnosis, guilty over the effect of your condition on your loved ones or even angry at yourself, your doctor or the universe.

It's crucial to remember that these feelings are normal and that help is available. To cope with the emotional side effects of meningioma treatment, consider the following:

  • Reaching out to your support network: Your friends, family and other loved ones can listen to your concerns. Talking to people you care about and trust may help you process your feelings and remind you that there are people who are there for you throughout your recovery journey.
  • Joining a support group: Being around and talking to people going through a similar situation may help you feel less alone and more understood. You may also learn new methods of coping with your condition from the other support group members.
  • Practicing self-care: It's essential to focus not just on your physical recovery but also on your mental well-being. To that end, take time to practice self-care. You can work on your hobbies, meditate, paint or do any activity that helps restore your emotional and mental wellness. 
  • Seeking help from a professional: Some patients struggle to talk to loved ones about their feelings. If this is the case for you, you may find it easier to speak with a professional, such as a counselor, psychologist or an oncology social worker, who can support you and help you find ways to cope with your diagnosis and treatment side effects.

Explore Other Treatment Options With a World-Renowned Neurosurgeon

Coping with meningioma's physical and emotional side effects can be challenging. If you are struggling, it is vital to reach out for help. Fortunately, resources and people are available to help provide you with the support and compassion you need to get through this difficult time.

Additionally, it may be helpful to know that as a patient, you have the right to ask questions about your diagnosis and treatment plan. Seeking a second opinion from another surgeon about your diagnosis and other treatment options may help give you peace of mind and empower you to make more informed decisions about your care.

Aaron Cohen-Gadol, MD, is one of the most prominent neurosurgeons worldwide. He is the founder and President of the Atlas Enterprise and the recipient of the Vilhelm Magnus Medal, the highest honor in neurosurgery.

Apart from his technical acumen, Dr. Cohen-Gadol is known for his empathy and compassion for his patients. He is dedicated to helping his patients and their families overcome the challenges of brain tumor diagnosis and treatment.

If you wish to explore other treatment options or learn more about your diagnosis, consider contacting Dr. Cohen-Gadol and his team. To do so, please fill out the online form and provide us with details about your case.