What’s New in Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment and Research

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Metastatic breast cancer (MBC), also known as stage IV breast cancer or advanced stage breast cancer, ultimately affects approximately 20-25 percent of all people with breast cancer. There is no cure for MBC, but new developments in treatment and research are helping patients live longer and experience a better quality of life. “There are women who live with MBC for many years, often five, ten years or more,” says Eric Winer, MD, director of the Breast Oncology Program in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. “Although some women with metastatic breast cancer still face a shorter …

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From Cancer Patient to Personal Trainer

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In April 2014, John Barrett, a 71-year-old Dana-Farber patient achieved a long-standing goal. He officially became a certified personal trainer. The lifelong exercise enthusiast set out to help cancer patients with their own fitness goals, and after his certification, began an internship with Nancy Campbell, MS, an exercise physiologist in Dana-Farber’s Adult Survivorship Program. He now shadows Campbell on Monday afternoons during patient consultations “It’s really great for patients to hear from John and get his first-hand experience,” she explains. “He helps them stay motivated and consistent.” Barrett always made exercise a mandatory part of his life. Time for running …

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Should Cancer Patients Get the Flu Shot?

Flu shot clinic 2014. Raphael Ceccaldi, Ph.D. getting his flu shot.

The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and those around you. But will cancer patients benefit from the flu shot given their immunity and treatment status? It is safe for patients who have not had a stem cell transplant to get the flu shot, and are highly encouraged to ask their providers about their vaccination options. However, those who have had, or who are currently undergoing a stem cell transplant, should take extra precautions. During a transplant, a patient’s immune system is extremely weak. Therefore, each patient has a specific timeframe for when it is best to …

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Five Things You Need to Know About Stomach Cancer

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Although not a common type of cancer in the United States, stomach (gastric) cancer is the second leading cancer death worldwide, and affects more men than women. “The United States’ risk is much less because of hygiene and the safety of foods we eat, and more to do with overall health and genetic predisposition,” explains Peter C. Enzinger, MD, medical director for the Center for Esophageal and Gastric Cancer at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC). As November marks Stomach Cancer Awareness Month, here are some facts about stomach cancer: 1.) What are the risk factors of Stomach Cancer? Although …

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Despite Metastatic Breast Cancer, Foster Mom Continues Opening Her Home

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Lise Pass has been living with metastatic breast cancer for nearly a decade, but she prefers focusing not on her disease, but rather on her children – all 48 of them. In addition to a biological son and daughter who are now adults, Pass and her husband Harry have been foster parents to 46 boys and girls. The way Pass sees it, being a foster mom has played as big a part in her getting through cancer treatment at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. “You have to empower yourself against cancer, to think of it …

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A Man in a Pink World: My Journey with Male Breast Cancer

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By Mike Johnston  My journey into the realm of male breast cancer began with a routine yearly physical exam in May 2009. I had noticed, and felt a twinge of pain in, a lump on my left breast, which I requested my physician take a look at. We conferred and he explained it may be a cyst, but insisted we examine it further, and I am so thankful he did. From that moment on, my life started to blur. A mammogram quickly led to an ultrasound, which ended with a biopsy. The follow-up call to my physician confirmed the lump …

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New Clinic Focuses on Why Some Conditions Become Cancer While Others Don’t

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Thousands of people learn each year – usually after a routine blood test – that they have a condition that may develop into a blood cancer such as leukemia, lymphoma or multiple myeloma. The news is often followed by an equally surprising addendum: the condition won’t be treated until it becomes a full-fledged cancer. The lack of treatments for such “precursor conditions” places patients in an awkward limbo: seemingly healthy but waiting for their disease to progress to the point where it’s treatable. Scientists have puzzled over why some people with these conditions go on to develop cancer quickly while …

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Shifting from Pediatric to Adult Care: Advice from a Survivor

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By Catherine MacLean The health care transition from pediatric to adult practitioners is an important process for any young adult, but it is especially critical for cancer survivors. Typically, this transition takes place sometime between ages 16 and 21. I was diagnosed with aplastic anemia at age 4 and had a bone marrow transplant at age 10. My shift to adult health care began around the time I was 17 and was completed at about age 21. I am now 23 and in full control of my own health care. From my personal experience, here are some critical pieces of …

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Tips for Recovering from a Hysterectomy

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Hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus, may be used to treat a variety of gynecologic cancers, including endometrial (uterine), ovarian, or cervical, or gestational trophoblastic  disease. Like any major surgery, recovering from a hysterectomy, which may also include removal of the ovaries, cervix, and fallopian tubes, takes time. Here is some advice from the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber on recovering safely following a hysterectomy. Balance activity with rest. Walking is one of the best ways for the body to recover and heal. Start slow and always listen to your body. You may be more …

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Themed Chemo Visits Help Breast Cancer Patient Cope with Treatment

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Cancer treatment is never fun, but Cheryl St. Onge figures if she has to go through it, she’s doing it with style — and smiles. Each time the breast cancer patient arrives at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center at Milford Regional Medical Center for her infusion visit, she wears a different themed outfit. One time she was a cowgirl with boots, hat, and a fringed vest; another time she came ready for a Hawaiian luau with the appropriate loud shirt and lei. Last month she was a nurse in scrubs. The wardrobes are kept a secret from her caregivers and …

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