Caring for a Person With a Brain Tumor, with Susan Chang, MD

Last Updated: August 20, 2018

Taking care of a person brain with a brain tumor comes with special needs. In this video, Dr. Susan Chang explains the concept of caregiving and the need for caregivers to take care of themselves during this stressful time.

More Information

Guide to Brain Tumors


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Cancer.Net®: Doctor-Approved Patient Information from ASCO®

Caring for a Person with a Brain Tumor

Susan Chang, MD: Caregiving refers to care that's provided to the patient that spans beyond what is normally provided by the medical professionals. So this includes caring for patients that span the emotional, psychological, and social aspects for the patient. I think that patients with brain tumors have very specific and more challenging aspects in their care.

First of all, I think it's important to realize that the role of the caregiver changes over time through the trajectory of the patient's illness. The side effects and the symptoms that patients exhibit can be very multifactorial. They can be from the disease itself, from the medications that are used, but also from the treatments that they undergo: the surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

The other major challenge, is that I think that most times we associate illness with physical illness, but with brain tumor patients you can have emotional and personality changes, social aspects, their inability to participate in the activities that they normally would be able to - for example, working or even being able to drive themselves. So it spans a much, much greater challenge for caregivers.

Caring for Someone With a Brain Tumor

Dr. Chang: Try to get as much information about resources that are available to you. For example, physical therapy, occupational therapy, there's speech and cognitive treatments that can be done, rehabilitation, to improve the level of functioning. Also to look at social services that might be available. I think looking at what social workers can help you with is also important because not only are you dealing with the physical and emotional changes that are occurring, but also some of the mundane but still important aspects such as medical insurance, work and occupational benefits that may be important to help the financial aspects of the patient.

Caring for the Caregiver

Dr. Chang: To provide the best care to the patient, you have to take care of yourself. Caregiver burnout is something that everybody is very aware of and tuned in to. And making sure that you yourself are replenished gives you a better perspective to taking care of your family member who has a brain tumor. So I think that looking at ways to get support, either by increasing your caregiving community, but also looking at resources - for example, support groups - that might be able to help you to understand the challenges and also to anticipate what might happen and what you might need.

Where to Get More Information

Dr. Chang: Well, I think that's one of the amazing aspects of ASCO is that they've gone beyond just the educational aspects for health professionals. There is now, of course, the Cancer.Net website which has not only very important information about brain tumors, but also about caregiving, and the importance of looking after yourself, as we talked about, and taking care of the caregiver.

[Closing and Credits]

Cancer.Net®: Doctor-Approved Patient Information from ASCO®

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