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Friends and family

A brain tumour diagnosis is a life changing event, not just for the individual themselves, but for the friends and family around them.

We know it can seem a bit daunting to know what you can do to help or support those who have just been diagnosed and that it is sometimes hard to know what to say. It is easy to feel a bit lost or helpless, but there are things you can do.

We have put together some ideas, practical tips and advice about how you can support your loved ones on this journey, using the experiences and opinions expressed within our community.

Make sure that you think about those closest to your loved one as well; their partners, parents, siblings, whoever may be their primary carer or immediate source of support.

This diagnosis is going to have a huge impact on them and their lives as well. It is important to not forget that they will also need your support and comfort now more than ever. Everything that we have written below is just as important and relevant for them as well.

It is important to remember that there is no set of rules that is right for everyone. You should think about your relationship and what you can realistically do to help, and use that to help guide your actions. Talk to your loved one, find out what they need or want.

Remember, sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference.

Learn about brain tumours

A useful first step towards supporting someone with a brain tumour is to learn more about what this means for them.

By understanding what a brain tumour is, what type they have, knowing what to expect and being aware of the impact a brain tumour can have on everyday life, you can be better prepared for changes that you might see in your loved one and help you to decide how best to support them.

Talk to others in a similar situation

We have Facebook support groups for the friends, relatives and carers of anyone with a brain tumour. These groups provide a safe space for you to share your experiences, ask for advice and seek support from others in a similar position. You can find out more about the groups and request to join on our Online Support page.

"When I was ill my friend messaged me a quote a day. It was something I looked forward to and put a smile on my face. They ranged from meaningful ones to funny ones. This might be an idea someone could use if they don't know what to say to someone."

April, Young Ambassador

Practical support

A brain tumour can have a huge impact on people's day to day lives and often, a little practical help can go a long way.

There are a number of ways that you can help someone, but make sure you are sensitive to their needs and appreciate that it can sometimes be hard to ask for help. Therefore, it is important to talk to your loved one first and find out what would be best for them, and for you.

Practical support could include:

  • Around the house - Ask if you can help with any household chores such as washing, ironing, putting away the shopping, mowing the lawn, etc. Consider what they might be struggling with, any tasks that take a lot of energy could be a good place to start.
  • Meals - Help by cooking or taking over pre-prepared meals. Save them from having to do this themselves. Make sure you talk to other friends and family members to see what they are helping with. The last thing someone needs is 20 casseroles in the freezer!
  • Getting about - Following a brain tumour diagnosis, many people will need to surrender their driving licence. If you can, offer to help by providing lifts when they need it. For example, to and from hospital appointments, trips to see friends or getting to the shops.
  • Childcare - This could be picking up children from school, looking after them for an afternoon a week or during hospital appointments.
  • Paperwork - Offering to help with forms or making phones calls on their behalf. For example, people with a brain tumour diagnosis are often eligible for certain benefits, but this can sometimes involve lengthy forms or telephone conversations.

Useful resources

Here are some resources that you may find helpful. Some of these are external resources and are not in any way supported or linked to The Brain Tumour Charity. We do not recommend, and have not vetted, individual external resources. However, from feedback gathered from those who have been affected by a brain tumour, we have produced the following list of companies who may be able to help:

Not Another Bunch of Flowers

This is website is for people wanting to send a gift with a thoughtful meaning and would be specifically useful for someone going through cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. Gifts available include: edible treats suitable for people going through chemotherapy, natural toiletries with non-chemical ingredients, and practical gift sets which include: pjs, eye masks and cooling pillows.

Visit Not Another Bunch of Flowers

Jointly App – by Carers UK

Jointly is an app created by Carers UK for carers to use to help coordinate and include a wider group of individuals in a care plan for someone. It is an interactive app which includes: a personalised profile about the individual being cared for which includes medication lists, a messaging service to connect with other carers, tasks list that individuals can tick off, a joint calendar and contact information.

Visit Jointly

What Matters Now

'What Matters Now' provides a free personal website for someone whose life has been affected by a serious illness. It aims to simplify communication and help to coordinate support from friends and family. Individual's websites can include: updates about what is happening with the individual (how they're feeling, how treatments going, etc.), a guestbook for friends and family to leave messages, upload photos and a 'lend a hand' section that lets people know how best they can provide support (e.g. the best type and time of visit, and how to help caregivers e.g. around the house).

Visit What Matters Now

If you have further questions, need to clarify any of the information on this page, or want to find out more about research and clinical trials, please contact our team:

Support and Information Services

0808 800 0004 (free from landlines and mobiles)

Phone lines open Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00

You can also join our active online community - Join our online support groups.