20 Years after BRCA: What We’ve Learned about Genetics and Breast Cancer

Twenty years ago, scientists announced the discovery of BRCA1, which arguably has become the best-known cancer susceptibility gene in the world. When inherited in a mutated form, the gene sharply increases a woman’s chances of developing breast or ovarian cancer, often at an early age. The discovery has changed the way women with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer approach these diseases, helping them better understand their risk and the options for reducing it. It also presents them with complex choices about sharing genetic test results with family members who may also carry the mutated gene. The hunt …

Continue reading

Despite Metastatic Breast Cancer, Foster Mom Continues Opening Her Home

IMG_2786

Lise Pass has been living with metastatic breast cancer for nearly a decade, but she prefers focusing not on her disease, but rather on her children – all 48 of them. In addition to a biological son and daughter who are now adults, Pass and her husband Harry have been foster parents to 46 boys and girls. The way Pass sees it, being a foster mom has played as big a part in her getting through cancer treatment at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. “You have to empower yourself against cancer, to think of it …

Continue reading

Student Goes Above and Beyond for College Community

SOG_7553_13

Like many college students, Kelly Fabrizio has a packed calendar. A sophomore at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, Fabrizio is taking classes to become a research pharmacist. In addition to her studies, she works at a pharmaceutical company and is also applying for pharmacy technician jobs in Boston.   Although Fabrizio has a lot on her plate, volunteering is a big part of her life in Boston. When she moved from Connecticut to attend college, she made it a priority to give back to her new community.  This has included volunteering at a homeless shelter and soup kitchen, and organizing …

Continue reading

A Man in a Pink World: My Journey with Male Breast Cancer

MikeJohnsonChemoParty

By Mike Johnston  My journey into the realm of male breast cancer began with a routine yearly physical exam in May 2009. I had noticed, and felt a twinge of pain in, a lump on my left breast, which I requested my physician take a look at. We conferred and he explained it may be a cyst, but insisted we examine it further, and I am so thankful he did. From that moment on, my life started to blur. A mammogram quickly led to an ultrasound, which ended with a biopsy. The follow-up call to my physician confirmed the lump …

Continue reading

New Clinic Focuses on Why Some Conditions Become Cancer While Others Don’t

SOG_8732_09

Thousands of people learn each year – usually after a routine blood test – that they have a condition that may develop into a blood cancer such as leukemia, lymphoma or multiple myeloma. The news is often followed by an equally surprising addendum: the condition won’t be treated until it becomes a full-fledged cancer. The lack of treatments for such “precursor conditions” places patients in an awkward limbo: seemingly healthy but waiting for their disease to progress to the point where it’s treatable. Scientists have puzzled over why some people with these conditions go on to develop cancer quickly while …

Continue reading

Shifting from Pediatric to Adult Care: Advice from a Survivor

10505393_10202105685303998_21115769698887752_n (2)

By Catherine MacLean The health care transition from pediatric to adult practitioners is an important process for any young adult, but it is especially critical for cancer survivors. Typically, this transition takes place sometime between ages 16 and 21. I was diagnosed with aplastic anemia at age 4 and had a bone marrow transplant at age 10. My shift to adult health care began around the time I was 17 and was completed at about age 21. I am now 23 and in full control of my own health care. From my personal experience, here are some critical pieces of …

Continue reading

Tips for Recovering from a Hysterectomy

Clipboard, paper and pen. Stock shot.

Hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus, may be used to treat a variety of gynecologic cancers, including endometrial (uterine), ovarian, or cervical, or gestational trophoblastic  disease. Like any major surgery, recovering from a hysterectomy, which may also include removal of the ovaries, cervix, and fallopian tubes, takes time. Here is some advice from the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber on recovering safely following a hysterectomy. Balance activity with rest. Walking is one of the best ways for the body to recover and heal. Start slow and always listen to your body. You may be more …

Continue reading

Themed Chemo Visits Help Breast Cancer Patient Cope with Treatment

countrywesternday

Cancer treatment is never fun, but Cheryl St. Onge figures if she has to go through it, she’s doing it with style — and smiles. Each time the breast cancer patient arrives at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center at Milford Regional Medical Center for her infusion visit, she wears a different themed outfit. One time she was a cowgirl with boots, hat, and a fringed vest; another time she came ready for a Hawaiian luau with the appropriate loud shirt and lei. Last month she was a nurse in scrubs. The wardrobes are kept a secret from her caregivers and …

Continue reading

Should I Take Aspirin to Prevent Cancer?

PF_pillsFinal_100SMALL

A steady drumbeat of research suggest that taking a small dose of daily aspirin over a period of years can reduce the risk of certain cancers. In August, researchers from London’s Queen Mary University concluded that daily aspirin taken over 10 years reduced the risk of developing cancers of the digestive tract – colon, stomach, and esophagus – by as much as 40 percent, and had a lesser impact on the number of lung, breast and prostate cancer diagnoses. The leader of the research – published in the Annals of Oncology,  said “the evidence is that everyone between 50 and …

Continue reading

Brain Tumor Survivor Shares Her Tips on the College Transition

Frannie 2_SMALL

By Frannie Palmer As a kid, I stumbled on my feet quite a bit. I had to use two hands on the railing while going down stairs. My parents thought I was just a little clumsy. The truth was, a brain tumor was creating pressure on my cerebellum and causing my incoordination. I was 6-years-old when I had surgery to remove the non-cancerous tumor. It wasn’t until I began applying for early decision admission to Wheaton College that I fully grasped how much it had affected me. After the surgery, I had to re-learn how to walk and talk. My …

Continue reading