Pregnancy and breast cancer: One mother’s story

Rebecca Byrne had waited years for a doctor to tell her, “You’re pregnant.” She never imagined that just a few months after she first heard those words, she would hear four more: “You have breast cancer.” Byrne still tears up when telling the story, but smiles when her 20-month-old daughter, Emelia, leaps into her lap. Emelia is the happy outcome of a painful period of Byrne’s life, when the joys of pending and early motherhood were shadowed by chemotherapy treatments, hair loss, radiation, and uncertainty.

A life saved by second opinions, experimental treatments, and a touch of luck

By James Bond “How long will I live?” I asked my oncologist in Ohio in 1992, when I was 44 and diagnosed with multiple myeloma. “Three years,” he answered. Instead, I enjoyed 10 more years of active living. Then my disease began to overtake me; my kidneys were failing, I was unable to eat solid foods, and I had fevers of 105 degrees. Having already had three stem cell transplants, I seemed to be out of options. My wife Kathleen and I were advised to seek hospice care.

Brain tumor doesn’t slow this fitness enthusiast

Bryan Reilly has a full-time job and a passion for exercise. He skis, climbs mountains, works out regularly, and runs a mile in under 8 minutes. Any 56-year-old could be proud of being so fit. But for Reilly, it’s a special triumph: Less than two years ago he was diagnosed with an often-lethal and aggressive brain tumor.

‘Designed by patients like me’: A patient’s perspective on the Yawkey Center

As a Dana-Farber employee planning events for the opening of Dana-Farber’s Yawkey Center for Cancer Care, I knew the building was designed with guidance from patients and families. But I had no idea how important this was until shortly after the building opened – and, newly diagnosed with acute t-cell lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma, I walked through the doors as a patient myself.

Men unite to cure women’s cancers

For most people, getting involved with a cause means thinking about what type of organization they’d like to support. But this is a story about what happens when a cause selects you – taps you on the shoulder and asks you to engage in battle. It began in 1998 when my wife Amy, then 40, was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer. Our two daughters were 5 years and 15 months old. Amy battled for 15 months, and died in 1999. Like many spouses of women who die of cancer too young, my next few years were all about balancing the …

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A focus on patient safety during radiation

March 4-10 is Patient Safety Awareness Week; at Dana-Farber, patient safety is at the top of our list 365 days a year. Here, we focus on one aspect of cancer treatment in which it’s especially important: radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is common – about two-thirds of all cancer patients can expect it to be included in their care. And while radiation therapy has been used for 100 years, it’s understandable that the prospect might make you anxious, particularly with regard to safety concerns. As with all aspects of cancer treatment at Dana-Farber, patient safety is at the core of radiation …

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Specialists recommend regular colonoscopies

If you’re over 50, have you been screened for colorectal cancer?  If not, the month of March would be a great time to talk about screening with your doctor. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer in men and women in theUnited States. In 2012, an estimated 141,210 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 49,380 will die of the disease. But it’s also a very curable cancer when it’s caught early. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February that tracked patients as long as 20 years shows that colonoscopy screening …

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Five tips for cancer caregivers

If you’re supporting a friend or family member who is undergoing cancer treatment, you may not think of yourself as a “caregiver.” It’s a role that can be very rewarding, but also challenging and stressful. You may find yourself juggling an incredible range of duties above and beyond what you regularly do at home and at work. From driving your loved one to appointments, to discussing medical issues with health care professionals, to making dinner every night, you may find that you’re taking care of nearly everything – except yourself. But your loved one’s well-being depends on you, so it’s …

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Dana-Farber responds to national drug supply issues

Recent concerns about availability and authenticity of certain drugs have generated news headlines worldwide and raised anxiety levels for some cancer patients and their families. Sylvia Bartel, RPh, MHP, Dana-Farber’s vice president of Pharmacy, says that although the cause of the two problems is unrelated, it underscores the need for continuous and careful monitoring and management of the Institute’s medications.

How our patients help create a healing environment

Look closely at some of the steel beams that support Dana-Farber’s Yawkey Center for Cancer Care and you’ll see the names of patients spray-painted in bright colors by ironworkers during the building’s construction. These beams frame the building, but patients and families have lent far more than their names to the facility’s creation. Their guidance underpins almost every aspect of the Yawkey Center. From the healing garden to the layout of exam rooms to the parking garage, the imprint of our patients and families is felt across the Institute. Here, Janet Porter, PhD, chief operating officer, recalls in her own …

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