Tom Brokaw: What It Means to Have Cancer

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The world is divided between those who are sympathetic to their friends and family who have cancer and those who have cancer and are empathetic with each other, says Tom Brokaw, the former “NBC Nightly News” anchor.  Brokaw, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August 2013, shares his cancer story in the video below. He advises new patients to be wary of Google searches, praises the work of cancer researchers, and recounts the physical and mental challenges he faced after being diagnosed. While he remained positive throughout the treatment, he admits he wasn’t prepared for the physical ordeal. “No …

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How to Help Patients During the Holidays

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The holidays are a time for celebrating with family and friends, but the season can bring challenges for cancer patients and those who have recently completed treatment. The stresses of cancer may leave them feeling out of touch or overburdened with traditional holiday responsibilities. If someone you know is in, or has recently completed, treatment for cancer, consider these tips for helping during the holidays. Let the patient take the lead. Some people will want to celebrate the holiday season as they always have, but others may want to step back and be less festive. Even if treatment is over, …

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Five Things Nonsmokers Need to Know About Lung Cancer

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Lung cancer remains the most deadly form of cancer in the United States, with nearly 160,000 deaths annually and more than 224,000 new cases expected in 2014. While many lung cancer diagnoses are linked to smoking, nonsmokers can develop the disease as well and should be aware of their risks. Anyone can get lung cancer. Although smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer, anyone with lungs is susceptible to this disease. Air pollution and exposure to asbestos, radon, chromium, nickel, arsenic, soot, or tar are also causes. Individuals who have been treated with radiation therapy to the chest …

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How to Provide Cancer Care When Resources are Scarce

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Is it fair that one person with Hodgkin lymphoma will be cured and another will die, simply because of what part of the world they live in? No, says Lawrence Shulman, MD, Dana-Farber’s director of the Center for Global Medicine and senior oncology advisor to Partners In Health (PIH). Shulman, who recently published his perspective in Nature Reviews Cancer, works with Dana-Farber and its partners Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital to bring cancer care to PIH sites in developing countries. He shares his experience in providing cancer care in Rwanda. Q: What is the difference between providing …

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What’s New in Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment and Research

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Metastatic breast cancer (MBC), also known as stage IV breast cancer or advanced stage breast cancer, ultimately affects approximately 20-25 percent of all people with breast cancer. There is no cure for MBC, but new developments in treatment and research are helping patients live longer and experience a better quality of life. “There are women who live with MBC for many years, often five, ten years or more,” says Eric Winer, MD, director of the Breast Oncology Program in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. “Although some women with metastatic breast cancer still face a shorter …

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Latest Research Shows Progress in Fight Against Lung Cancer

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Lung cancer, which causes more deaths worldwide than any other malignancy, is revealing its vulnerabilities under a sustained assault from science. Many of the most recent advances against the disease have a long pedigree at Dana-Farber. It was 10 years ago, in fact, that Dana-Farber scientists and elsewhere showed non-small cell lung cancers that carry a mutation in the gene EGFR are susceptible to a targeted drug. That discovery, which ushered in the era of personalized medicine for lung cancer, has lengthened the lives of tens of thousands of patients around the world. Today it is a standard procedure in …

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Tackling College, Marathons, and Multiple Myeloma

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By Ethan Hawes “Having cancer in college doesn’t seem real.” That was my first thought when I received what would become life-changing news at the age of 22 as a senior at the University of Maine (Orono). My body went numb and tears started to form when my doctor told me I had multiple myeloma, a rare form of blood cancer predominately found in people over the age of 65. [Less than one percent of multiple myeloma cases are diagnosed in people younger than 35.] On that infamous July day in 2013, I went from a normal college student to …

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How a Navy SEAL Veteran Helps Kids with Cancer

Adam LaReau has seen courage. The 34-year-old Navy SEAL combat veteran spent 11 years serving his country, and has seen courage in the actions of his fellow SEALS and through the children of fallen comrades who must learn to grow up without their fathers. Now living in Boston, LaReau has found a way to channel these two examples of bravery. Through a nonprofit program he started called One Summit, he is pairing up SEALS with young cancer patients from Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and other hospitals for a day of indoor rock climbing activities in which confidence …

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How Does Chemotherapy Work?

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More than half of all people with cancer will get chemotherapy – powerful drugs that kill cancer cells to cure the disease, slow its growth, or reduce its symptoms. There are more than 100 different drugs used in chemotherapy, sometimes alone, but more often in combinations that have proven effective against specific types of cancer. Though traditionally given by injection or intravenous infusion, chemotherapy drugs are increasingly available as pills or liquids that patients can take at home (oral chemotherapy). Administered prior to surgery, chemotherapy may make a tumor smaller and easier to remove. Chemotherapy is often given as an …

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From Cancer Patient to Personal Trainer

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In April 2014, John Barrett, a 71-year-old Dana-Farber patient achieved a long-standing goal. He officially became a certified personal trainer. The lifelong exercise enthusiast set out to help cancer patients with their own fitness goals, and after his certification, began an internship with Nancy Campbell, MS, an exercise physiologist in Dana-Farber’s Adult Survivorship Program. He now shadows Campbell on Monday afternoons during patient consultations “It’s really great for patients to hear from John and get his first-hand experience,” she explains. “He helps them stay motivated and consistent.” Barrett always made exercise a mandatory part of his life. Time for running …

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