After Your Meningioma Diagnosis
Few people expect to learn they have a brain tumor, and it can be an emotional experience. You may be feeling overwhelmed at this point, which is perfectly natural. You might even be asking yourself, “Now what?” It’s okay. Below, you’ll find some steps you can take after your meningioma diagnosis. This will help you have some ideas of where to go from here and what you can do next.
Step 1: Understand Your Condition
Take some time to learn about your meningioma so you can better understand your condition and treatment options. The meninges are a thin layer of tissue that covers the entire brain and spinal cord. A meningioma is a tumor that develops from the meninges. Meningiomas are classified by grade, ranging from grade I to III. This classification is based on the aggressiveness of the tumor and requires a biopsy, or sample of the tissue, which is then examined by a pathologist.
The majority of meningiomas are benign. This means they do not spread to other sites of the body and do not invade local tissues. However, some patients will have more aggressive meningiomas, which likewise require more aggressive treatment. This potential for malignancy is what makes the next step so important.
Step 2: Find an Experienced Doctor
It will be important that you work with someone in the tri-state area who has experience treating meningiomas. Meningiomas can vary in size, location and aggressiveness, and the treatment that is right for you may be different from the next patient. Your doctor will take all of these factors into consideration, along with your personal health factors.
The next step will outline some of the treatment options available in the NJ area. Not every neurosurgeon has experience using all these different approaches to treat meningiomas. Taking the time to find someone who does will help ensure all options are taken into consideration. This will give you confidence that your treatment plan is the most effective approach for your specific situation.
Step 3: Learn About Your Treatment Options
Once you find an experienced doctor, he or she will take many factors into consideration to develop a treatment plan. As described above, your treatment will depend on the characteristics of your meningioma (such as size, location, and grade) as well as your individual health, like age, medications and other any other conditions you have. Some of the potential treatment options include:
- Monitoring – If your meningioma is small, asymptomatic and benign, your doctor may recommend a “watch and wait” approach before any treatment. You will be scheduled for regular follow-up appointments to monitor your meningioma for any changes.
- Surgical Removal – Some patients will need to have all or part of their meningioma removed using surgery. If your tumor has the potential to regrow after removal, you may require radiation after surgery to ensure all the tumor cells are eliminated.
- Gamma Knife Radiosurgery – Gamma Knife radiosurgery is an advanced form of radiation therapy that can be used to target just your tumor, sparing healthy surrounding tissue. This can be an excellent option for patients with small tumors or who are not good surgical candidates.
- Fractionated Radiotherapy – Another form of radiation therapy, which uses low doses of radiation to treat your meningioma over multiple sessions.
Step 4: Develop a Support Network
Having a network of people you can reach out to for support will help you feel less stress during this time. Whether it is friends, family or other patients who have been diagnosed with meningioma, surround yourself with people who can help provide you comfort as you move through the treatment and recovery process. There are also online communities of patients who have been through the process before whose experiences can help you know what to expect going forward.
Step 5: Remain Positive
It may be easier said than done, but do your best to remain positive following your meningioma diagnosis. Stress can impede the body’s natural healing processes, and having a positive outlook is one way to reduce stress levels. The first four steps outlined above all tie into having a good mindset, helping you accomplish this final step.
Putting it Together
You don’t need to be overwhelmed after your meningioma diagnosis. Educating yourself about your condition and treatment options is a powerful way to gain peace of mind. Working with an NJ doctor experienced in treating will give you confidence that your health is in good hands. Having a support network will provide comfort as you begin your treatment and progress into recovery. All of these things will contribute to reduced stress, helping you remain positive and allowing you to focus your energy on healing.
"They cared about e not as just a patient, but as a person." - Kate Cammarata