Archive for May 31, 2012

Five reasons to be optimistic about the future of cancer treatment

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It’s not always easy to recognize that we live in a golden age. Too often we fail to appreciate the amazing things going on around us because we‘re so caught up in day-to-day activities and pressing demands that we presume that the extraordinary is rather ordinary.

So it may be with cancer treatment in 2012.  And the future looks to be even better – not necessarily easier, simpler, or cheaper, but unequivocally better.

Here are five reasons why. Read more

A new approach to old ideas about diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma

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Hilary Olson had no reason to suspect that her daughter Hailey might have a brain tumor.

“Her smile was starting to droop a little, and one of her eyes was a little jumpy,” says the 6-year-old’s mother. “We took her to see a neurologist, and he thought she might have pinched a nerve.

“But when he sent us to Boston Children’s Hospital for an MRI,” she continues, “the radiologists sent us straight down to the emergency room.” Read more

How to eat ice cream and support cancer research at the same time

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Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen are the smiling faces once found on every container of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. The Burlington, Vt. company’s co-founders have become as famous for their charitable work as they are for Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey.

Here Jerry talks about his company’s support of Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl® presented by FedEx, the nation’s largest all-you-can-eat ice cream festival to be held this year from noon to 8 p.m. on June 5-7 at Boston’s City Hall Plaza.

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Traveling with cancer

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For most people, a cancer diagnosis brings the daily routine of life to a grinding halt, at least temporarily. But after the initial shock wears off, many patients strive to resume their everyday activities, including vacation or travel plans.

Being treated for cancer doesn’t necessarily mean cancelling your summer vacation. Many people travel during and after cancer treatment. But it can require a little planning. Read more

New developments in brain tumor treatment: Five questions for David Reardon, MD

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More than 600,000 people in the United States are living with a primary brain tumor — one that begins and stays in the brain — and over 60,000 adults and children will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year.

In recognition of May as Brain Tumor Awareness Month, we asked David Reardon, MD, clinical director of the Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, for the latest advances in brain tumor research and patient care. Read more

Watch and wait: When cancer treatment seems to mean doing nothing

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Watch and wait. That’s often one of the new terms added to your vocabulary when you’re diagnosed with cancer. Or maybe it’s wait and watch. Or active monitoring. Whatever it’s called, sometimes it’s the term used when there’s nothing to do to treat your particular cancer but wait.

That’s a hard thing to do, most doctors will tell you. The natural reaction to a cancer diagnosis is a desire to do something, anything. Melt it. Burn it. Radiate it. Drug it. Remove it. Attack it. Just get the cancer out of you. Read more

How to help your kids cope with your cancer

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For people with cancer, deciding how, and what, to tell others about the diagnosis can be a challenge. How do you tell your loved ones, or your employer, that you have cancer?

For parents, there’s another degree of difficulty: What do you say to your children? How much will they understand, and what’s the best approach?

Susan Englander, LICSW, a social worker at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who specializes in working with young adult patients — many of whom have children — offers these tips to parents with cancer on how to talk to their kids and help them through the process. Read more

Pregnancy and breast cancer: One mother’s story

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Rebecca Byrne had waited years for a doctor to tell her, “You’re pregnant.” She never imagined that just a few months after she first heard those words, she would hear four more: “You have breast cancer.”

Byrne still tears up when telling the story, but smiles when her 20-month-old daughter, Emelia, leaps into her lap. Emelia is the happy outcome of a painful period of Byrne’s life, when the joys of pending and early motherhood were shadowed by chemotherapy treatments, hair loss, radiation, and uncertainty. Read more

Do friends, family affect your health?

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In low-income, minority communities, tight-knit social connections can lead people to eat right and be physically active — but they can also sometimes be an obstacle to a healthy lifestyle, according to new research by investigators at Dana-Farber and the Harvard School of Public Health.

The findings present a mixed picture of the benefits and potential downsides of social ties as they relate to a healthy lifestyle.

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A life saved by second opinions, experimental treatments, and a touch of luck

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By James Bond

“How long will I live?” I asked my oncologist in Ohio in 1992, when I was 44 and diagnosed with multiple myeloma.

“Three years,” he answered.

Instead, I enjoyed 10 more years of active living. Then my disease began to overtake me; my kidneys were failing, I was unable to eat solid foods, and I had fevers of 105 degrees.

Having already had three stem cell transplants, I seemed to be out of options. My wife Kathleen and I were advised to seek hospice care. Read more