Two people hugging at the annual Caregiver Retreat

A Restorative Day for Caregivers

On Saturday, May 19, over 30 caregivers of UCSF patients with brain tumors gathered for a day dedicated to their own well-being. “The best way for us as doctors to take care of our patients is to take care of our caregivers as well,” said neuro-oncologist Jennie Taylor, MD.

Dealing with a loved one’s brain tumor diagnosis can be isolating, due to the rarity of the disease as well as the many physical, cognitive, and social changes that can happen to patients with a brain tumor.  

The annual day-long event, sponsored by the UCSF Neuro-Oncology Gordon Murray Caregiver Program, was filled with informational and emotional support sessions, as well as self-care activities like chair massages, music therapy, and guided meditation.


Caregivers Brittany Vass (left) and Dawn Cole (right) about to begin singing during the music therapy activity.

Talks from UCSF faculty and staff ranged from understanding how a brain tumor affects a patient, to tips for caregiver stress management. “It’s easy for your time together to become all about medications [and] appointments,” said Margaretta Page, RN while speaking on the many new roles that caregivers find themselves taking on. “But it’s important to remember what the two of you enjoy doing together and make time for fun.”

Margaretta Page, RN facilitates one of the discussion groups, as caregivers share their experiences. 

But perhaps the most important highlight of the event was the opportunity for caregivers to connect with others going through similar situations. Throughout the day, whether in structured discussion groups or casually over coffee, they were able to share stories and take comfort from each other. Many caregivers expressed that being part of a community that understands your daily challenges is invaluable. In particular, one participant shared how important meeting others in the group was to her, “Caregivers need that place to not have to be strong, to not have to be everything all the time, and be around people that understand.”


Learn more about the UCSF Neuro-Oncology Gordon Murray Caregiver Program.