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Coping with being less independent

One of the most common difficulties people face after a brain tumour diagnosis is feeling like they’ve lost their independence.

The physical or cognitive challenges they experience may mean they now need help with everyday tasks, such as dressing, shopping or even socialising. If they’re no longer able to work, they may need to depend on their partner financially too.

When I was really poorly, Gary had to help me with everything including things like brushing my teeth and washing. I couldn’t make food myself as all my meals had to be pureed too.

Read Lucy's story

For many people, losing their driving licence represents something much bigger than having to rely on loved ones or public transport to get around. It can become symbolic of all the ways they’ve become less independent because of their diagnosis.

For partners, the additional caring responsibilities can make them feel like they’ve lost some of their freedom. Especially if they’re balancing this with their career or raising a family.

The new Relationship Support Service is the most flexible and personal service I've ever experienced. It's tailor made for my needs and the situation of a partner living with someone with a brain tumour.

Read Brendan's story

Brandon's partner experienced low moods following her brain surgery and the couple realised it was becoming difficult to jointly care for their daughter. Conflicts at home seemed compounded by lockdown.

Brandon found life a challenge and said he often felt tearful and was struggling to access support from his network because he felt he didn't want to burden them. That's when we introduced him to our new relationship service which Brandon says has been a great help;

"It has been really supportive. I've felt understood and backed. I've felt the therapist has been really there for me.

"It's relieved some pressure and given me a space to explore my emotions without worrying what the other person thinks or worrying that I need to protect them.

"I've had around half the allocated sessions and its been agreed I can reserve the remaining ones for as and when I need them - I feel this may be soon as my partner is due to have surgery in the next two months.

"It's the most flexible and personal service I've ever experienced, tailor made for my needs and the situation of a partner living with someone with a brain tumour."

Whether you’re currently in a relationship, or hoping to start a new one, our partnership with Relate can help you get the most out of your relationships. If you think talking to someone might help, click the link below to find out more about our new Relationship Support Service.

It’s completely natural for a relationship to feel less balanced than it was before the diagnosis. Adjusting to this can be uncomfortable for many couples and, unsurprisingly, it can put a strain on the relationship.

If this happens, communicating with your partner about how you feel is vital. Although, this can be more complicated if the brain tumour is causing difficulties with speech, language or understanding.

You don’t need to go through this alone though. Relate offer a wide range of content to help people experiencing relationship difficulties and we’ve teamed up with them to provide a counselling service for couples and individuals whose relationship has been affected by a brain tumour.

Find out more

We know that, sadly, some people in our community have seen changes in their loved ones that have led to them being violent or aggressive, although this is rare. 

These changes can seem even more worrying in the current situation, but it’s important to remember that if this is something you’re experiencing, your safety is paramount and the current social distancing (or isolation) rules don’t apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic violence.

If you feel you’re at risk of abuse, remember there’s help and support available, including police response, online support, helplines, refuges and other services.

You are not alone!

Find out more

This content and our relationship counselling service have been created in partnership with Relate, the leading relationships charity in England and Wales. If you found this information useful, you might also find the following resources by Relate interesting:

This content and our relationship support service has been created in partnership with Relate - the leading relationships charity in England and Wales.

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If you need someone to talk to or advice on where to get help, our Support and Information team is available by phone, email or live-chat.