Fighting the Lung Cancer Stigma

Despite the research, the promising new drugs, the many ongoing clinical trials, lung cancer remains a disease that affects too many people, too often. For patients and family members, the disease carries an added burden: a stigma that lung cancer and smoking go hand in hand, and that lung cancer patients brought this on themselves. Not only must these patients and family members face their disease, but they also must carry the guilt and blame that some people cast their way. When we posted a recent infographic on smoking and cancer, we unintentionally helped promote that stigma. We’re deeply sorry …

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Research Report: New Treatments for Melanoma

by Richard Saltus As recently as five years ago, progress in treating life-threatening malignant melanoma was slow. Since then, several molecularly targeted drugs have burst on the scene, and new strategies for awakening the immune system to attack the cancer cells have yielded dramatic long-term survival benefits for some patients. “The outlook for patients has never been so good – and we anticipate that in the next year or two it will be much better,” says Louise M. Perkins, PhD, chief science officer for the Melanoma Research Alliance, which funds research on the skin cancer.

Marine Conquers Leukemia with Support from Family and the Massachusetts State Police

By Tim Crowley This Veteran’s Day, Dana-Farber thanks our patients, survivors, families, and friends who have served or are serving in the armed forces, including survivors Stacey Carroll, Ben Groen, and Tim Crowley, who tells his story below. In June 2010, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a fast-moving disease where too many immature white blood cells are present in the blood and bone marrow, after doctors found abnormalities in routine blood work for the Marines. My wife, Julie, and I were in shock. We had just celebrated Father’s Day with our two young children, Jack and Kate, …

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How to Tell Your Children You Have Cancer

by Richard Saltus For many parents, their first concern after a cancer diagnosis is the impact it will have on their children. There’s a lot of medical information to digest and decisions to be made, including how and when to tell your children. There are good reasons talk to your children as soon as possible after your diagnosis. No matter their age, children will realize something is wrong; they may discover the truth accidentally from someone else, and it’s better if you can present the information in an honest and hopeful manner.

One Year After My Stem Cell Transplant — What I’ve Learned

by Martha Laperle When my son Ryan ran the Boston Marathon this year, I watched him with a special level of pride. Not only had he completed his first-ever marathon in four hours, but he was running, in large part, because of me. Just over a year earlier, at the age of 57, I had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a diagnosis that turned my life upside down and led to weeks of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC). Ryan was running to raise funds for the …

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Is a Preventive Mastectomy the Right Choice For You?

Does having cancer in one breast increase the risk of cancer occurring in the other, healthy breast? Young women with breast cancer often respond with a “yes” and overestimate the need to have the healthy breast surgically removed, according to a recent study by Dana-Farber investigators. However, the actual risk of cancer occurring in the healthy breast of those women without a genetic predisposition to breast cancer is only two to four percent.

Six Important Questions About Childhood Cancer

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. We asked Lisa Diller, MD, chief medical officer at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, to answer these important questions. What signs might lead a child’s pediatrician to suspect cancer? Cancer is very diverse, and diagnosis is further complicated because many signs and symptoms—like fever, bruising and headaches—are normal in healthy children.

Making ‘Em Laugh: 12-year-old Cancer Patient Compiles Joke Book

Jack Robinson is a special kid. Diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 11, he tackled treatment if not with a smile on his face, then with a joke on his lips… or more accurately, on paper. The Massachusetts resident compiled and edited a joke book called, “Make ‘em Laugh” to help himself, and other kids who were sick. It was drafted from hundreds of jokes, riddles, and drawings submitted by Robinson and other kids cared for in the Jimmy Fund Clinic and the inpatient oncology floors at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Dating and Cancer 101

by Amy Atwood SWF, Bald, Undergoing Chemo and Radiation… Oh yeah, isn’t that the first profile you would click on if you were searching for the love of your life or even just a new ‘friend’ online? Dating in itself – or, I should say, finding someone to date – is never easy. Finding someone when you happen to be bald, going through chemo and/or making daily trips to the hospital for radiation makes it a zillion times more complicated. I know. I’ve tried it.