Summer Camp Gives Nurse Insight into Challenges Facing Patients’ Children

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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 …

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BRCA-Positive Mom Supports Ovarian Cancer Research for Future Generations

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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 …

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

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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 …

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

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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 …

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

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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 …

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Room Makeovers Help Young Patients Feel at Home

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Ana Karen Ventura may be a long way from home, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. Ventura, 11, is an inpatient at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, but her hospital room at Boston Children’s Hospital looks more like the bedroom of any tween girl. There are posters of flowers and her favorite celebrities, paper butterflies hanging from the ceiling, and blue and purple lights strung around her window, door, and mirror. A colorful bedspread matches the shade of her new lamp, and a portable dresser has the credo “Bald Girls Rock!” highlighted on its top. She just …

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From Infusion to the Aisle: A Bride Plans Her Wedding During Cancer Treatment

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By Kiara Kharpertian The fall season is sort of strange for me. Over the past few years, a number of important things happened during this season. In early October 2010, I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer at the age of 25. Though I was rediagnosed stage IV in March 2013, by October 2013, exactly three years to the day that I found that original lump, my scans came back clean – no evidence of disease. But six weeks later, in November 2013, an MRI revealed about a dozen small, scattered brain tumors. Fast forward another year: October 3, …

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How to Help Patients During the Holidays

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The holidays are a time for celebrating with family and friends, but the season can bring challenges for cancer patients and those who have recently completed treatment. The stresses of cancer may leave them feeling out of touch or overburdened with traditional holiday responsibilities. If someone you know is in, or has recently completed, treatment for cancer, consider these tips for helping during the holidays. Let the patient take the lead. Some people will want to celebrate the holiday season as they always have, but others may want to step back and be less festive. Even if treatment is over, …

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Five Things Nonsmokers Need to Know About Lung Cancer

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Lung cancer remains the most deadly form of cancer in the United States, with nearly 160,000 deaths annually and more than 224,000 new cases expected in 2014. While many lung cancer diagnoses are linked to smoking, nonsmokers can develop the disease as well and should be aware of their risks. Anyone can get lung cancer. Although smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer, anyone with lungs is susceptible to this disease. Air pollution and exposure to asbestos, radon, chromium, nickel, arsenic, soot, or tar are also causes. Individuals who have been treated with radiation therapy to the chest …

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How to Provide Cancer Care When Resources are Scarce

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Is it fair that one person with Hodgkin lymphoma will be cured and another will die, simply because of what part of the world they live in? No, says Lawrence Shulman, MD, Dana-Farber’s director of the Center for Global Cancer Medicine and senior oncology advisor to Partners In Health (PIH). Shulman, who recently published his perspective in Nature Reviews Cancer, works with Dana-Farber and its partners Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital to bring cancer care to PIH sites in developing countries. He shares his experience in providing cancer care in Rwanda. Q: What is the difference between …

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