A young woman in her prime, with a full life and meaningful career, does not expect a cancer diagnosis. But that is what happened to 34-year-old Erin, who received the news when she was in Paris with her mother and sister, on a long-awaited trip to celebrate Mother’s Day.
By Bethany-Rose Daubman, MD As a palliative care physician, part of my job is to help foster communication among family members making difficult health care decisions. This often relates to end-of-life matters, a topic I’ve grown comfortable with. In the department of psychosocial oncology and palliative care at Dana-Farber, my colleagues […]
By Julia Pettengill Our daughter Sophie was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2½, and received two years of care at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. While I felt tremendous joy and relief when she completed treatment, I also found the experience traumatic.
By Maggie Loucks, NP-C When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 28, during my last semester of graduate school, I remember thinking that this had to mean something. I needed to turn an unfortunate situation into something positive, so I decided to pursue oncology nursing where I felt I […]
By Julie Salinger, LICSW The holiday season is full of cheer, but it can also be stressful, especially for cancer patients and their family caregivers. In addition to the extra time spent on shopping, cooking, and socializing, family interactions may bring complex dynamics, old grievances, and varying expectations to the forefront. […]
This post was originally published in November 2013. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and certain medications can take a toll on patients, with side effects such as nausea. Although you may experience a loss of appetite during treatment, it is important to find ways to give your body the […]
By Robert Foley Increasing evidence through research at Dana-Farber and elsewhere supports the use of acupuncture as a remedy for some of the symptoms breast cancer patients experience. This integrative therapy can be used in conjunction with radiation and chemotherapy.
Cancer or blood disorder patients may have central lines, which make it easier to receive certain medications (such as chemotherapy) and have blood tests. The major types of central lines include Port-A-Cath, Hickman, and peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC). Patients receiving stem cell transplants sometimes have central lines. If you have a central […]
By Christopher Lathan, MD, MS, MPH When cancer strikes someone who is already facing other hardships – for example, he or she is poor, alone, or has a language barrier – the experience is very different than it might be for someone who has more resources and support. The Cancer […]
By Catherine MacLean “Why is this coming up now?” “It’s been 10 years. I should be over this already.” “Why is this happening to me? All of the other survivors I know seem fine.” These thoughts preoccupied me during the transition from high school to college. It had been 10 […]
Ninety minutes. That’s all it takes to save a life when you donate platelets at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. For Baila Janock, these 90 minutes are practically a weekly occurrence since her late husband Irving Janock was treated for pancreatic cancer […]
Women who believe that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol won’t increase their risk of breast cancer may want to think again. Last year, Wendy Chen, MD, of the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber and her colleagues published a study showing that women who drank as little […]
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute recently partnered with CancerConnect and Ursula Matulonis, MD, to answer questions about ovarian cancer. Experts in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers offer the latest research and treatment for this type of cancer. Watch one patient’s story. Q: Is taking curcumin recommended to prevent ovarian cancer from returning? […]
By Sarah Feldman, MD, MPH Healthy young women should get their first Pap test at age 21. If that test is normal, they should have additional Pap tests every three years. If they have symptoms such as abnormal bleeding or are found to have an abnormality on their cervix during […]
By Clair Beard, MD Testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in young men (ages 15-34). It is also one of the most treatable and curable types of cancers.
By Meg McCormick When I learned I had a stage 4 breast cancer, I decided not let it rob me of the opportunities to enjoy my life. I still have a physically active, socially engaged lifestyle, and if you have metastatic breast cancer, so can you.
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, palliative care and hospice care differ in several important ways for cancer patients – most notably, the stage of treatment at which they are given. Both types of care focus on relieving patients’ pain and discomfort, whether caused by the cancer itself or […]
The use of hair dyes is widespread. It’s estimated that more than a third of women over age 18 and 10 percent of men over age 40 – a group that numbers in the millions in the U.S. alone – color their hair. Even if exposure to hair dye increases […]
By Stacey Carroll Watch Stacey Carroll describe how she got her strength back. In my mental dictionary, strength had to do with will power and physical ability, and I believed I was strong according to my definition. I’ve been in the US Army for 20 years, served as a Commander […]
By Christine Cleary The 21st century has seen great strides in treatment for multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow once considered a death sentence. In fact, thanks to research by Dana-Farber scientists, this blood cancer that took the lives of Geraldine Ferraro and Leonard P. Zakim has become […]
What is different and special about Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center? Several doctors and nurses answer this question in a new advertising campaign. The campaign promotes the specialized care and team approach provided in Boston and at regional care centers in South Weymouth and Milford, Mass. Behind DF/BWCC patient care is […]
by Eric Schuller When you think of a cancer patient, you might envision someone frail and thin. But while weight loss can be a side effect, gaining weight during cancer treatment is also quite common. That’s why it’s important to find a healthy balance during treatment. Here are some tips.
By Lori Buswell, RN I recently returned from a three-month rotation as a nurse fellow at a comprehensive cancer center at Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, a tiny African country known as the “land of a thousand hills.” The hospital, built and operated by the Ministry of Health and Partners In […]
By Eric Schuller Palliative care is often misunderstood. People may associate it with end-of-life care or “giving up” – especially when facing a serious health challenge like cancer. But palliative care may not be what you think, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it. Here’s a closer look […]
Dana-Farber celebrates cancer survivorship in June with Living Proof, an annual series of events that includes workshops and programs as well as a keynote reception on June 20. The end of treatment is an important milestone for any cancer patient, but it can also be a time of anxiety. In […]
By Ian Krop, MD, PhD Clinical trials are scientific studies in which new treatments – drugs, diagnostic procedures, and other therapies – are tested in people to find out if they are safe and effective. Nearly all cancer drugs in use today were tested in clinical trials.
By Vish Viswanath, PhD News about advances in cancer research and treatment appears almost daily. The pace at which new findings are reported, coupled with the complexity of the underlying science, can make it difficult to know which studies are truly significant and which are less so. It’s easy to […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
Just as Dana-Farber tailors treatment and support to children and young adults, the Older Adult Leukemia Program ̶ a specialized, clinical service ̶ addresses the other end of the spectrum: adults who are 65 and older, and have blood cancer such as leukemia or other bone marrow disorders.
Having cancer as a teen or young adult can throw your life off track. Just when you’re learning to drive, planning your prom, or playing your favorite sport, you find yourself sick, bald, and in the hospital. And you worry about your appearance – especially if you’re a girl.
By Eric Schuller Getting cancer can be particularly difficult for young adults – classified by the National Cancer Institute as ages 15 to 39. Because the disease is relatively rare in this age group, these younger patients may find themselves isolated – too old to fit easily into childhood cancer programs, and […]
By Nancy Borstelmann, LICSW, MPH A cancer diagnosis can put even the most organized person into a state of disarray. That’s not surprising, because it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and out of control in the face of such stress. But there are steps you can take to ensure you’re best […]
By William Hahn, MD, PhD Every year, hundreds of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students study cancer research at Dana-Farber under some of the world’s leading scientists. The Dana-Farber Postdoc and Graduate Student Affairs Office recently named the first recipient of its Mentor-of-the-Year Award: William Hahn, MD, PhD, the Institute’s deputy […]
By Judy Garber, MD, MPH We know that women who inherit harmful mutations in the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2 have a sharply increased risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer at an early age (prior to menopause). In fact, women with inherited BRCA1 or 2 mutations are about five times […]
Most people seek opinions from experts when it comes to important matters, such as finances, children’s education, or a major purchase. Why not do so when it comes to your cancer treatment?
By Melissa Cochran, MS, NP For my cancer patients, a stem cell transplant is a life-changing event. They cannot work outside the home for a full year; visits to Dana-Farber are about the only excursions allowed. No more trips to the grocery store or dinners at a favorite restaurant. In our clinic, […]
Pink may be the color for breast cancer advocacy, but that doesn’t mean men can’t be diagnosed with the disease. Each year, 2,000 men in the U.S. receive a breast cancer diagnosis. Current treatments are highly effective in men whose cancer is treated early. However, because men aren’t familiar with breast […]
by Michael Buller Whenever I’ve met people with cancer, I’ve been at a loss for what to say and which questions to ask. Now, as a cancer patient, I realize the irony.
Not long ago, doctors were often skeptical when cancer patients who had undergone chemotherapy complained that they were mentally foggy; unable to plan a week’s worth of meals or organize their finances as they could before. Patients called this side effect “chemobrain” and were frustrated by the lack of recognition […]
When Gov. Deval Patrick signed an oral chemotherapy parity bill into law on January 5, Massachusetts joined more than 20 states requiring health plans to cover oral cancer pills at a rate no less favorable than standard intravenous (IV) chemotherapy. The new law tells insurers that they cannot require higher […]
by Saul Weingart, MD, PhD Flu has arrived in the northeast with a vengeance. The City of Boston declared the flu epidemic a public health emergency. Perhaps someone you know has been sick with the flu. Influenza can be serious for anyone, but for a cancer patient, the stakes are […]
Faced with an abundance of cancer stories in the news and our own personal experiences with cancer, we may fear that there’s a growing “epidemic” of the disease. Not so. A new report says that overall, deaths from cancer are continuing to decline, as they have for nearly two decades.
by Nancy Campbell, MS “How soon can I start exercising after I start cancer treatment?” It’s a question I hear often from patients who visit me for a fitness consult or class at Dana-Farber. My answer? “As soon as possible.” While it may seem counterintuitive, exercise offers key benefits for […]
When Jane Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer last July, she began learning as much as she could about her disease. Davis quickly discovered one of the most startling statistics about breast cancer: Up to 40 percent of women who have a lumpectomy require a second surgery. That’s because surgeons often […]
by Sara Dickison Taylor You wouldn’t be able to tell just by meeting them, but high-school student Molly Callahan and Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center nurse Lindsay Roache, RN, have a few things in common: They’ve survived cancer, and they’re committed to helping others.
It’s hard to believe that the holidays are upon us – again. The stores are overflowing with holiday goods as families gear up for their celebrations. However, if someone you love has recently died, thinking about the holidays may bring you anguish. What were once happy times might now fill […]
by Barbara Virchick On July 18, 2012, a Cancer Center of Excellence opened in Butaro, Rwanda, as a collaboration between Partners In Health and Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. I was fortunate to have been there during this exciting time, working as part of a three-month fellowship to help train […]
As we approach the Thanksgiving meal, Dana-Farber nutritionists offer some easy tips for enjoying the holiday without packing on pounds. The average Thanksgiving dinner contains at least 3,000 calories. When you add in snacks, appetizers, and drinks throughout the day, you may end up consuming approximately 4,500 calories (two to three […]
While other kinds of cancer may receive more public attention, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths. There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell carcinoma and non-small cell carcinoma, both of which mainly affect people over 45 years old. We spoke with Bruce E. Johnson, MD […]
On Thanksgiving Day every year, Marc Kutzer and his sister, Roberta Klein, have much to be thankful for. In 2001, Kutzer went to his primary care physician for a routine physical. What his doctor discovered led Kutzer, 52, to Dana-Farber — and to a procedure he credits for saving not […]
A stem cell transplant can be referred to as a bone marrow transplant (BMT) or peripheral blood stem cell transplant (PBSCT) or umbilical cord blood transplantation (UCBT), depending on the source of the cells that are transplanted. In other words, the only real distinction between a bone marrow transplant and a stem […]
“Stay positive, I know it helps.” “What steps would you suggest I take to support my dad through all of this?” “I am a new member of this group.” These conversations are occurring online, at any time of day, in a community most people would not want to join: A […]
By Erica L. Mayer, MD, MPH There has been remarkable recent progress in identifying effective treatments for patients with metastatic breast cancer – that is, cancer that has spread beyond the breast and underarm lymph nodes to other parts of the body.
By Lola Baltzell I have been a metastatic breast cancer patient at Dana-Farber for over four years now. “Metastatic” means the cancer has spread beyond the breast. I have an amazing team of providers, especially my oncologist Ann Partridge and nurse practitioner Anne Kelly.
Cancer scientists use a wide variety of techniques to study the growth and development of tumor cells. Laboratory research often focuses on individual cells or tissue samples, but to learn how cancers grow and respond to therapies in living organisms, scientists rely on other experimental models. In recent years, zebrafish […]
Aromatase inhibitors (AIs), such as Arimidex, Aromasin, and Femara, have proven to be more effective than previous hormonal treatments for treating both early and advanced breast cancer in post-menopausal women whose tumors are dependent on estrogen. Compared with tamoxifen, these drugs are less likely to cause blood clots or raise […]
By Mark Kieran, MD, PhD In 2006, a group of Egyptian doctors arrived at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to seek our help. Could we teach them how to care for the rising numbers of children with cancer, in their own country?
Steven Clifford is an 18-year-old osteosarcoma survivor. A Boston native, he starts college at the University of California, San Diego this month. This is his story. Life is made up of many difficult decisions. However, imagine my surprise when I had to make a tough and potentially life changing decision […]
By Lola Baltzell People often ask me: How do you manage to live with metastatic breast cancer? One of the most important strategies for me has been building a support network. My diagnosis of breast cancer that had already spread to my bones came out of the blue. I had […]
In 2012, it is estimated that more than 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer will be found, and over 15,000 women will die from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. Unfortunately, in many cases the cancer isn’t detected until it is advanced. It’s important to recognize the symptoms […]
For years, researchers have sought an avenue to deliver chemotherapy directly to retinoblastoma tumors – cancers of the retina of the eye, which primarily affect children under age 5. It turns out that the body itself offers just such a route.
A pill bottle isn’t the only option for relieving stress and discomfort caused by cancer and its treatments. Sometimes you can eat your way to feeling better. Dana-Farber nutrition expert Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, suggests some common foods that can pep you up, calm you down, relieve nausea, and potentially fight […]
Although swollen lymph nodes (also known as swollen glands) are usually a sign of an infection or inflammation, they can, very infrequently, be a sign of cancer or a rare disorder. Rachael Grace, MD, and Christopher Weldon, MD, PhD, co-directors of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center’s Node Assessment […]
Just as people may wheeze and itch in the presence of cats or pollen, a minority of cancer patients become allergic to the very drugs that are fighting their disease.
Every Sunday, the Cutter family holds a Chemofeast. The door to their home is open to any and all who wish to attend. It’s a day full of food, beverages, and a lot of laughter, and 15-year-old Blake Cutter gets to choose the menu. Then on Monday, his mother, Lois, […]
Maddie Dillon, 17, did not really understand what cancer was when she was diagnosed at age 8. With the help of Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic, she beat her leukemia, but only briefly. Six months later it came back, and she went through more treatment.
Award-winning photographer Richard Conboy understands the value of enjoying the moment, both in his pictures and in his life. Conboy had Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a teenager, and 40 years later, he beat colon cancer with the help of the Dana-Farber.
Their last names are practically identical. They are both fathers, and their oldest sons, now 6’3, were born on the same day – just two hours apart. “Blood brothers” Craig Johnson and Henrik Janssen had much to celebrate recently.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to help cancer patients is to give blood. There is a constant need for donations, but especially so in the summer when people are on vacation and unable to donate. One pint of blood can save up to two lives, and one […]
By Karen Lee Sobol I recently learned that the word “patient” shares a Latin root with the word “compassion.” Any one of us can become a patient, for a number of reasons. For me, hearing a diagnosis of Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia flipped a switch. I became a patient in a big way.
The dirt roads in northern Rwanda now lead to a cancer center where patients can receive care for a disease that was, until now, considered a death sentence there. The Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, which was dedicated on July 18, has allowed Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center to extend a […]
As recently as a decade ago, a visit to the hospital sometimes meant entering meant entering a cold, synthetic setting. But the tide is changing. A growing body of research indicates that creating what’s commonly called a “healing environment” – with features such as calming music, garden areas, artwork, and […]
The call of the beach is hard to ignore on sunny summer days. Yet many teens and young adults do not follow protection tips when they hit the sand. They remain the most difficult age group to convince that ultraviolet (UV) rays, which come from the sun and indoor tanning […]
Genes don’t cause cancer, but genetic mutations can. Our cells have about 22,000 genes, which consist of DNA packed into chromosomes inside the cell nucleus. These genes control a wide range of functions, including cell growth and division. When the genes misbehave or mutate, cancer can develop.
In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship. To look at 9-year-old baseball player and Lego champion Charlie Rider, you’d never guess he’d had cancer for nearly half his life.
In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship. In 2008 I discovered that my breast cancer, in remission for several years, had spread to my bones. I had just turned 50 and made a list of things I wanted to try that year: ride a helicopter, taste sake, […]
Musician Sheryl Crow announced on June 5 that she has a benign brain tumor known as a meningioma. Below, doctors from Dana-Farber’s Center for Neuro-Oncology describe this condition. The singer-songwriter, a breast cancer survivor, visited Dana-Farber in 2006. Meningiomas are tumors on the surface of the brain, spinal cord, and […]