You Are Not Alone: Supporting Siblings of Childhood Cancer Patients

When Phoebe Clark was 14-months old, she had little knowledge of what was happening to her brother, Harry. The 5-year-old had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and was undergoing multiple surgeries and radiation therapy at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. But a few years later, when Phoebe was 5-years old, her brother suffered a brain bleed and was back in the hospital. Suddenly, the hospital and the Jimmy Fund Clinic were not only at the center of Harry’s world, they were a major part of Phoebe’s life, too. “You really started to see the impact of what …

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Do All BRCA Mutations Come with the Same Cancer Risk?

Gentic testing for breast and ovarian cancer patients.

Women born with mutations in the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2 have an increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, but the degree of increase depends on a variety of factors. Not all mutations within these genes raise the risk equally. A study published earlier this year tracked breast and ovarian cancer occurrences over a 75-year period in 31,000 women who had inherited mutations BRCA1 or BRCA2. The researchers found that mutations at either end of the BRCA1 gene increased the risk of breast cancer more than the risk of ovarian cancer. A group of mutations that occur in the middle …

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Why I Ride: Dr. Christopher Sweeney

Team Shawmut PMC

Since 1980, more than 88,000 cyclists have taken to Massachusetts’ roads for the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) to raise funds for cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber. Among the riders are many patients, their family members, and their doctors. Christopher Sweeney, MBBS, medical oncologist in Dana-Farber’s Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology, is one of them. We recently spoke with Dr. Sweeney about what motivates him to ride. Why did you start riding the PMC? In addition to treating patients with genitourinary cancers, particularly prostate and testicular cancer, I do clinical and translational research, with a focus on trying to find …

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At 91 Years Old, Sandy Cunningham Keeps On Volunteering for Cancer Patients

Sandy Cunningham 150

Ingersoll “Sandy” Cunningham has the dignified, silver-haired appearance of a man you’d expect to find sipping iced tea at the country club. So what is this Harvard-educated great-grandfather doing pushing food carts through the hallways of Dana-Farber, handing out sandwiches to patients? “You’ve got to have some objective when you get up in the morning, a purpose and a place to be,” says Cunningham, 91, a retired investment advisor, and for the last 16 years, a weekly volunteer at Dana-Farber. “This is mine. I used to take care of people and their money; now I take care of people facing …

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Solving Puzzles with Cigall Kadoch

SMALL_SOG_1102_15

Growing up in the San Francisco area, Cigall Kadoch, PhD, had a passion for puzzles. The daughter of a Moroccan-born, Israeli-raised father and a mother from Michigan who together developed an interior design business, Kadoch excelled in school and pretty much everything else. Above all, she loved to solve brain-teasers. In high school, however, Kadoch came up against a problem that defied solution. Breast cancer took the life of a beloved family caretaker who had nurtured her interests in science and nature. “I was deeply saddened and very frustrated at my lack of understanding of what had happened,” recalls Kadoch, …

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Isolation Patients Bond During Treatment

Isolation patients Shannon and Zack bond during treatment

This post originally appeared on the Jimmy Fund blog. By Erica Equi “People would say ‘I feel bad for her’…I’m the same person I ever was, but better, stronger,” says 14-year-old Shannon Curley, reflecting on the time she spent in isolation treatment at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve met so many amazing people and learned some important things.” In December 2012, Shannon, a middle school basketball star and Billerica native, was diagnosed with acute bilineal leukemia. Due to the rarity and nature of her leukemia, doctors recommended an aggressive treatment plan. After three …

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Coping with Breast Cancer as a Young Adult

Young women breast cancer Hangout

Young women with breast cancer face many unique emotional challenges: They may be in college, dating, starting a career, raising a family, or trying to start one. “Cancer disrupts many aspects of young adulthood such as family planning, careers, relationships, sexuality, and sexual health,” said Karen Fasciano, PsyD, clinical psychologist and director of Dana-Farber’s Young Adult Program, who recently joined four young women in different stages of breast cancer treatment to discuss their experiences. During a Google+ Hangout, Heidi Floyd, Nadia Tase, Danielle Ameden, and Beverly McKee, MSW, LCSW, shared with viewers the challenges they faced, ways they found support …

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Young Adults Share Their Cancer Journeys Through Photos

Nature's Scars

When Jenn Jackson, a trained physician, was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma in 2011 and found out she could no longer practice medicine, the news was devastating. “Getting this cancer diagnosis changed the whole trajectory of my life,” says Jackson, who was diagnosed at 35, after completing 10 years of medical training. But, craving a greater sense of purpose, Jackson soon found a new career: photography. “Now that I have cancer, I pay more attention to things that I see, and I wanted to share that beauty with other people,” she says. Jackson is now sharing that perspective through the YAP: Focus …

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Approval of Targeted Lung Cancer Drug Iressa Culminates Long Research Trail

precision medicine

The Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug Iressa® for a form of metastatic lung cancer represents a return to prominence for the compound that launched the era of targeted therapy in lung cancer – even if that wasn’t clear at the time of its original clinical trial in patients. The FDA approved Iressa (gefitinib) as a first-line treatment for patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumor cells harbor specific mutations in the gene EGFR. “The approval of Iressa is important because newly diagnosed patients with EGFR-mutant lung cancer now have more treatment options,” said Pasi A. …

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How Is Surgery Used to Treat Gynecologic Cancers?

Gynecologic cancer surgery

Many associate cancer treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but for many women with gynecologic cancers, surgery is often the first line of defense. Colleen Feltmate, MD, director of minimally invasive surgery in gynecologic oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), shares insight into surgical options to treat these cancers.   Minimally Invasive vs. Open Surgeries Minimally invasive surgery, or laparoscopy, is increasingly used in gynecologic cancers, often with the assistance of a robot. Robotic surgery can give surgeons improved control and precision during intricate procedures, and requires only a few small incisions, as opposed to larger, open surgeries. …

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