Fertility After Breast Cancer

MaggieLoucks

Young women may think about having children, but when diagnosed with breast cancer, patients often face these decisions long before they thought they would have to. For Maggie Loucks, NP-C, who was diagnosed at age 28, preserving fertility became a major factor in deciding what treatment plan to pursue. “You’re 28-years old and you want to do everything you can to ensure this doesn’t come back, but at the same time you want to preserve your fertility as much as possible,” says Loucks, who sought care at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. Although the process was …

Continue reading

Survivor Uses Reiki and ‘Button Therapy’ to Help Others Facing Cancer

buttons

As a girl, Paula Kaufman loved playing with the buttons that her grandmother, a seamstress, had in abundance. Later, while in treatment for stage III colorectal cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Kaufman – then a mother of three in her late 30s – gained strength from a jar of buttons her grandmother bequeathed to her. “When you have cancer, you feel like you’re hanging by a thread,” Kaufman explains. “The connections you make with other people are the buttons that pull you through.” Kaufman’s caregivers, family, and friends served as her buttons, and she drew further comfort from Reiki, a …

Continue reading

Employee Elves Bring Holiday Cheer to Dana-Farber Patients

PF_SOG_6367_13

For many, the holiday season is a time of gift-giving, warm meals, and celebration. But, for families with limited financial resources who are dealing with cancer treatment, the holidays can be overwhelming and stressful. That’s where Ellen Casey-Magleby and Deborah Toffler, MSW, LCSW, come in. Casey-Magleby, program administrator for Social Work, and Toffler, director of Patient and Family Programs and Services, lead Dana-Farber’s Seasonal Giving Program, which provides holiday support to current Dana-Farber patients and their families in need of financial assistance. The program is fueled by Institute employees and external donors, with the goal of giving patients gift cards …

Continue reading

How to Manage Family Life When Your Child Has Cancer

SMALL_family pic

By Valerie Graf When our daughter, Ruby, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at one and a half years old, my husband and I were immediately transformed from working parents with two young children, to parental caregivers for a child with cancer. Between hospital stays, medications and appointments, there was so much to keep track of. It can be overwhelming at times, but there are ways to manage life after your child is diagnosed with cancer. Settle into to this new normal. It can be easy to stay in crisis mode when something like a cancer diagnosis interrupts your …

Continue reading

Tips and Advice for Taking Oral Chemotherapy

Thomas_Kochanek_SOG_5515_14

By Thomas Kochanek, PhD When we think of chemotherapy, most of us imagine a cancer patient hooked up to an IV in a hospital setting, getting his or her treatment through infusion. While this image is accurate, cancer treatment increasingly takes place at home, as patients receive oral chemotherapy or other types of anti-cancer drugs through pills, tablets, and liquids. Infusion and oral chemo are not necessarily mutually exclusive, either. Many patients begin with one and transition to the other; others, like me, are on several drugs, receiving one by infusion and another by pill. Since I was diagnosed with multiple …

Continue reading

Summer Camp Gives Nurse Insight into Challenges Facing Patients’ Children

SMALL_Erin Silva RN 3

Erin Silva, RN, BSN, has formed very strong connections with her adult patients at Dana-Farber/New Hampshire Oncology-Hematology (Dana-Farber/NHOH) in Londonderry, New Hampshire. However, the 30-year-old oncology nurse rarely saw the full impact of cancer on their children. After a stint at summer camp, she has a much better idea. Silva spent a week in late August as nurse for the MIT chapter of Camp Kesem, a non-profit, student-run organization that offers free camping experiences to children ages 6-16 whose parents are living with or died from cancer. “Kesem” means “magic” in Hebrew, and the network of 63 Kesem camps throughout …

Continue reading

BRCA-Positive Mom Supports Ovarian Cancer Research for Future Generations

SMALL_IMG_0481

Mimi Gallagher never missed a gynecologist appointment. Her maternal grandmother died from ovarian cancer in her early 70s, and Gallagher, at 46, was well aware of her risk. Despite her diligence, and years of worry-free trips to the gynecologist, the mother of two was diagnosed with stage III c ovarian cancer. Troubling symptoms in July 2012, including bloating, constipation, and lethargy, led Gallagher to visit her gynecologist, primary care physician, and a gastrointestinal specialist, but, she says, “Ovarian cancer was never on anyone’s radar.” However, a vaginal ultrasound soon confirmed her cancer, and she was referred to a surgeon who …

Continue reading

What to Know About Mastectomy Clothing: Bras, Swimsuits and Insurance

Mastectomy bras

Mastectomy bra with a space for a prosthesis. For many women with breast cancer, a mastectomy, or removal of the breast, is a necessary part of treatment. Although breast reconstruction is available to most women, some choose to use prosthetics to replace the missing breast(s). If a patient decides to use prosthetics, there are special types of apparel, known as mastectomy clothing, which can help provide comfort and a natural appearance. Here are some common questions around prostheses and mastectomy clothing: What is a breast prosthesis? Read more: Foods to Keep in Your Diet Before and After a Mastectomy Is a …

Continue reading

Listen: Dr. Sidney Farber Discusses Cancer Research in 1951 Radio Broadcast

PF_Young Farber

In the 1940s, children diagnosed with leukemia had a grim prognosis; there was essentially nothing doctors could offer to treat the young patients, other than cortisone therapy to help with side effects of the disease. But in 1948, Dana-Farber founder Sidney Farber, MD, believed a drug that blocked folic acid would shut down the production of abnormal bone marrow associated with leukemia. After a trial of this drug proved effective in a group of young patients, Farber published his discovery to the New England Journal of Medicine. Although it was met with some skepticism, it would prove to be the first of many important advances spearheaded …

Continue reading

New Therapy for ‘Bubble Boy’ Disease Gives Chilean Boy a Chance for a Healthy Life

Gabriel_02-landscape_DSCN9299

Gabriel Solis is a typical 3-year-old. He likes puzzles and swimming and singing. He shakes off colds like other children. Gabriel, however, is not like other children. He has a functioning immune system thanks to an international gene therapy trial for “bubble boy” disease whose early success was reported recently in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). When Gabriel was 4½ months old, no longer protected by his mother’s immunity, he came down with a fever and pneumonia that landed him in the intensive care unit of the local hospital in the family’s hometown of La Serena, Chile. A …

Continue reading