Tips every new cancer survivor should know

In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship.  When I was discharged from the hospital in 1996 after undergoing a stem cell transplant to treat leukemia, I was terrified. Yes, I’d survived cancer treatment, but now I had to deal with something even scarier: the unknown. If you’ve recently ended active treatment and are entering the world of survivorship, here are some tips to keep in mind. It’s OK to feel isolated at first. The end of cancer treatment can bring negative emotions, particularly when those around you think you should be “getting back to normal.” Leaving the safety …

Continue reading

Why pediatric survivor programs are so important

In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship.  When Dana-Farber launched its David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic nearly 20 years ago, it was one of the nation’s first programs dedicated to helping childhood cancer survivors. From the beginning, the pediatric survivorship clinic has been guided by clinic director Lisa Diller, MD, who is recognized globally for her contributions to cancer survivorship and pediatric oncology. The Perini clinic has developed resources that help survivors address issues such as the long-term effects of treatment, the risk of second cancers, and the psychological concerns of being a cancer survivor.

A comprehensive approach to care for cancer survivors

In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship.  The United States today is home to an estimated 12 million cancer survivors, thanks largely to advances in cancer treatment. But the end of treatment is not the end of the cancer experience. For many cancer survivors and caregivers, the years after cancer treatment can bring physical and psychological challenges, says Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, founder and director of Dana-Farber’s Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer and director of the Adult Survivorship Program.

Therapy dogs bring smiles to kids with cancer

With the pitter patter of small feet, Phil makes his way through the halls of Boston Children’s Hospital. He walks with a purpose, boarding the elevator that takes him to the oncology floor for his next appointment. Phil is a new face in 6 North, the oncology unit at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. A spunky pug mix who knows a trick or two, Phil is one of nine therapy dogs who visit pediatric patients at Boston Children’s Hospital as part of the Pawprints Program. What he lacks in medical credentials and size, he easily makes up for in …

Continue reading

What is myelodysplastic syndrome?

When Good Morning America host Robin Roberts revealed that she has myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), she turned a spotlight on a group of blood disorders that affect an estimated 35,000 to 55,000 people in the United States. In patients with MDS, the bone marrow fails to produce normal quantities of blood cells and the cells themselves are often abnormal, resulting in anemia and an array of symptoms including paleness, fatigue, susceptibility to infections, and easy bruising or bleeding. The syndrome, of which there are at least 15,000 new diagnoses each year in the United States, formerly was known as “pre-leukemia” because about …

Continue reading

Fact or fiction: symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer that affects young women more than older women.  Because it’s relatively uncommon — it represents less than five percent of all breast cancer cases — people are often confused about what inflammatory breast cancer is and how you can detect it. As a breast oncologist specializing in inflammatory breast cancer, I want to share some of the common myths to help you separate fact from fiction about IBC.

Science and serendipity: How the study of basic science leads to unexpected results

What’s a cancer scientist doing earning an award for diabetes or cardiovascular research? The two Dana-Farber scientists who received the prizes in early June say they are great examples of how research that isn’t tied to specific goals can lead to unanticipated discoveries in other areas. They argue that just as their unrestricted pursuit of scientific questions in cancer biology has paid off in two different fields of biomedicine – diabetes and heart disease – research that originally wasn’t related to cancer has shed light on the roots of malignant diseases.

What is immunotherapy for cancer?

Immunotherapy is one of the most technologically advanced yet basic forms of cancer treatment. It uses the body’s own defense mechanism, the immune system, to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is probably most familiar to you in the form of vaccinations for the flu, polio, chicken pox, and other contagious diseases. In those cases, people are injected with a dead or weakened form of the virus responsible for the disease. That prompts the immune system to produce antibodies and white blood cells that ward off infection from the live virus. For cancer prevention, two immune system-stimulating vaccines are now in use: one …

Continue reading

A Talk with Sam Donaldson, Melanoma Survivor

“I don’t believe that optimism can cure cancer, but I do believe one’s general health around the edges can make a difference.” Sam Donaldson, ABC News contributor, learned he had melanoma in 1997. Despite his diagnosis, he opted to stay positive and learn all he could about his disease. Now chairman emeritus of the foundation board at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), Donaldson also works on survivorship initiatives. He talked to us about what he learned, and shares some of his insights here: Keep people in the loop. I owed it to my coworkers to tell them right away about …

Continue reading

Five reasons to be optimistic about the future of cancer treatment

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.