Archive for May 31, 2013

Facing First-Time Parenthood… and Cancer

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By Lyndsay McCaffery

The first year of your baby’s life is special. They come home to you this eating, pooping, screaming machine and twelve months later they are their own walking and babbling little person. It is a year to truly cherish because you realize what parents mean when they say, “they grow up so fast.”  Well, my baby’s year is going by incredibly fast. He is a crawling, smiling, happy boy. Meanwhile, I feel I have hardly moved at all. A shocking diagnosis interfered with what was supposed to be the happiest time in my life.

What do you do when you are a new parent and you have cancer? I know the answer firsthand.

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Kelley Tuthill’s Tips for Choosing a Wig

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By Kelley Tuthill

Hair loss can be a jarring side effect of chemotherapy. When I was treated for breast cancer, I was nervous about my appearance and decided to wear a wig. At first it was a strange experience, but wearing a wig helped me face the day — and a TV audience. Here are five tips I learned for selecting a wig and wearing it with confidence. Read more

Summer Fun for Kids with Cancer

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By Caroline Rider

For many families with children, summer is a time for vacations, outings, and fun. However, a summer vacation when your child has cancer can seem out of the question. But sometimes, a summer getaway is just what the doctor ordered. Read more

Meet Boston Marathon Runner and Platelet Donor Wendy Akeson

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By Saul Wisnia

Wendy Akeson is passionate about both running and donating platelets. Never has she felt such a strong connection between these two roles as she did this year.

Four minutes after completing her 10th consecutive Boston Marathon, Akeson heard the explosions that will forever link this year’s marathon with tragedy – and then saw people running toward her from the finish line she had just crossed.

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How to Enjoy Summer without Raising Your Cancer Risk

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by Joanna Steere

As summer takes hold, it’s often hard to resist the delicious aroma of a backyard barbecue or soaking in some rays at the beach. However, it’s important to know the health risks associated with these common activities, especially when cancer’s involved.

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Should You Donate Tissue for Cancer Research?

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By Eric Schuller

If you recently learned you have cancer, donating a sample of your cancer tissue to science is probably the last thing on your mind. But it’s a topic that you might discuss with someone on your health care team, because cancer researchers often rely on donated tissue samples to help them better understand what causes cancer and which treatments are most effective. Read more

Why Join A Cancer Support Group

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By Nancy Borstelmann, LICSW, MPH

Having cancer can be isolating. Even if you’re surrounded by friends and loved ones, you may feel that no one understands what you’re going through. That’s why it can be helpful to join a support group attended by people who face a similar diagnosis, or are in your peer group.

Here are some of the benefits support groups can offer. Read more

What Are Common Brain Tumor Symptoms?

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by Richard Saltus

People experiencing an unusual or particularly bad headache sometimes worry they might have a brain tumor. Headaches are very common and usually don’t signal a serious illness – but when should you be checked out by a doctor?

We asked neuro-oncologists Lakshmi Nayak, MD, and Eudocia Quant Lee, MD, MPH from the Dana-Farber Center for Neuro-Oncology to review the red flags that warrant a medical follow up:

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Genetic Testing, Cancer Risk, and Angelina Jolie’s Choice

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Actress Angelina Jolie is no stranger to the headlines, but she stunned the world with her Op-Ed in The New York Times, in which she shared her very private decision to have a preventive double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. “I hope that other women can benefit from my experience,” wrote Jolie. “Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness.” But for Jolie, and many others, getting genetic testing and taking action may offer control and comfort.

How do you know if genetic testing is right for you? Judy Garber, MD, MPH, is director of the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and one of the leaders of the Institute’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers. She talks about the BRCA test, family history and cancer risk, and preventive options for breast and ovarian cancer.

 

 

The Dana-Farber Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program offers advanced genetic tests to determine risk, as well as counseling and education, once the results are determined.

If you have a question about genetic factors that increase cancer risk, you can ask the Dana-Farber cancer genetics team.

 

 

Expecting a Baby—Not Cancer

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Editor’s Note: This is the second in our series of stories celebrating Moms this Mother’s Day weekend. Yesterday, Michelle Maloney shared her story. Today, it’s Allison Bellevue’s turn.

By Christine Triantos

In one whirlwind year, Allison Bellevue moved to Boston, started a new job, met her future husband, and discovered she was pregnant. Compared to what followed, that year was a breeze.

When Bellevue, now 31, went for her first fetal ultrasound, doctors noticed a small mass on her right ovary. They told her it was likely a cyst, and they would keep an eye on it over time.

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