You have just been told you have a brain tumor―or maybe you have been living with that knowledge for a while. You may feel that you are on an emotional rollercoaster, scared and angry one day, hopeful and positive the next day. Chances are, you are asking yourself, “Why did this happen to me?” and “Will my life ever be the same?”
Even without a brain tumor diagnosis, life never stands still. Your life will likely be different from what it was before, but if you are like most people, you will find a way to accept life’s latest development and focus your energy on adjusting to this new reality.
Here are the six feelings that you will very likely experience. All are normal:
Even if you were pretty sure you were going to receive a brain tumor diagnosis, nothing quite prepares you for the moment when you hear those words from your doctor. You may feel numb, confused, and overwhelmed. Do not be overly surprised if your first reaction is a blank stare and a feeling of dissociation instead of an emotional outburst.
Why is this happening to you? What did you do to deserve it? As you mull over these questions, your family and close friends may view you as being unconcerned and not understanding all the ramifications of your diagnosis. This, too, is normal.
On the surface, guilt does not appear to be a rational reaction to your diagnosis. Yet there is a good chance that at some point, you will begin looking inward for “reasons.” You may think, “If I had exercised more…if I didn’t eat all those fatty foods…if I went to the doctor the first time I had a headache…maybe it would all be okay.” Keep in mind that you did not do anything to cause your tumor. Even the medical community is not quite sure about why some people get brain tumors and others don’t.
It is not uncommon to strike out at those you love the most, including your family, friends, doctors, and even God. When you begin to feel angry, see if you can communicate your feelings. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I am just so angry today” so that others can help you.
It is common to battle anxiety and depression before, during, or even after treatment. If you are experiencing a fast heartbeat, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, or persistent feelings of hopelessness and sadness let your doctor know. He or she may be able to give you guidance for working through these feelings or point you in the direction of other available resources.
It may take you a little while to get here, but eventually, most people get to a point where they are ready to meet the challenges of their treatment. Learn ways others are coping by joining a brain tumor support group or by participating in an online community with others who share similar experiences related to their brain tumor.
Your brain tumor diagnosis will place you on a path you may not have originally anticipated. By understanding your emotions, you can more easily move onward with your life.