One Brain Tumor Patient's Tips: Making a Fresh Start

Peter McCabe

Fear, helplessness and anger can overwhelm brain tumor patients struggling to cope with the challenges they face. Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute (NBTI) patient, Peter McCabe, shares the approach that helped him stay positive after his diagnosis in May 2009.

  • Accept the fact that your life will never be the same.

    In some ways, knowing this is very disappointing. Having a brain tumor actually can give you a fresh start in your life. I came to the conclusion that there are more important things in life than success. Looking at it this way gives you the freedom, as well as the opportunity, to do things that you have never done. It allows you to travel more, find a new hobby, change professions and, most importantly, spend time with those you love.

  • Embrace the fact that you have a second chance at life.

    Realize that every second of life is important, and it is essential to make the most out of your time.

  • Change your attitude.

    Don't go through your life being depressed. There is no need to feel that way. Realize that God has a plan for you. Follow it.

“Pete is a patient who continues to amaze me,” says Peter’s surgeon, James Chandler, MD, Co-Director of the NBTI and Surgical Director of Neuro-Oncology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “He was able to overcome a lot of obstacles, including weakened motor skills and balance issues. He was regimented in his physical therapy protocol and rehabilitation program. But most of all, the experience of having a brain tumor allowed him to do some soul searching and discover that he wanted to invest more time in his religion, family and friends.”

Brain Tumor patients, survivors, families and caregivers can learn more about brain tumors, share experiences and receive support at monthly Northwestern Brain Tumor Support Group meetings. The comprehensive Supportive Oncology services at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University are also available for NBTI patients and families.

NBTI is a comprehensive program that merges clinical research with medical and surgical treatment for brain and spinal cord tumor patients. The Institute offers state-of-the-art clinical care, clinical trial access and provides the resources and support necessary for patients and their families to meet the challenges of living with a brain tumor. To learn more about the NBTI, visit or call 855.695.NBTI.


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