Metastatic Breast Cancer Patient Keeps on Riding

Every day, Pat Hastings is in the barn by 5 a.m. As steward of the Hamilton Rare Breeds Foundation in Hartland, Vt., Hastings oversees herds of Poitou donkeys, Choctaw mustangs, Dales ponies, and American Cream draft horses. She has worked on farms for 35 years, and it’s here, with her horses, that she recovers from treatments for metastatic breast cancer. “Animals and farming are in my blood,” she says. First diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in April 1998, Hastings had a radical mastectomy at a hospital near her home in Vermont. Eleven years later, she felt a lump in the …

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Can Women Get More Than One Lumpectomy?


For many women with localized breast cancer, a lumpectomy followed by breast radiation therapy may be the most effective treatment, with survival rates equal to a mastectomy. But if the cancer comes back, can women have additional lumpectomies? Women should not have a second lumpectomy in the same breast if they were previously treated with a lumpectomy and radiation, says Mehra Golshan, MD, FACS, director of Breast Surgical Services at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. Instead, the standard course of treatment is a mastectomy (total removal of the breast), with or without reconstruction, to avoid …

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Melanoma – What’s the Latest?

PF_Jennifer Lin166from BWH

Sun safety applies to everyone, regardless of skin color, gender, or age. That was the message emphasized in a recent live video webchat with Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) dermatologist Jennifer Lin, MD. During the chat, Lin answered questions about the latest in melanoma treatment and prevention. “The bottom line is that UV radiation causes mutations in our genes, which can lead to cancer,” says Lin, who works in DF/BWCC’s Melanoma Treatment Center. “We have to live with the sun, so it’s important that we learn to limit exposure and minimize a lifetime risk of accumulating genetic mutations. ” …

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Family Ties: Why Genetics Matter

Genetics, cancer prevention

By Christine Hensel Triantos  On a cold winter day in 2002, Sharon Goyette stepped into Dana-Farber’s Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention. She was a 21-year-old college student, and this was the last place she wanted to be. But her mother had insisted. After developing colon cancer, Goyette’s mother had been diagnosed with Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer), an inherited condition that increases the risk of many types of cancer, including colorectal, uterine, stomach, brain, and skin. Her colon cancer was now advanced, and she had pleaded with Goyette to undergo genetic testing to find out …

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Young Adult Shares Tips for Coping with Cancer

Young adult patients

By Carolyn Ridge On June 1, 2012, at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. The physical toll cancer took on my body was difficult, forcing me into early menopause, but I was even less prepared for the emotional side effects cancer would bring, including the depression I experienced throughout treatment. I am now dealing with a recurrence that was diagnosed in September 2014, but my reaction this time is different, because I am different. I have a care team I trust, cancer tools at my disposal, and, most importantly, I know that I’m not …

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Living Well with Chronic Breast Cancer

Duncan Finigan isn’t fond of the phrase “stage IV.” “I choose to call it treatable, non-curable cancer, or a chronic disease,” the mom of four says. Following a physical exam by a new gynecologist last October, Finigan expedited her December mammogram, which ultimately led to an MRI, ultrasound, and a diagnosis of stage IV breast cancer. “When I saw a surgeon, radiologist, and oncologist at Dana-Farber’s South Shore location, that’s when I learned my cancer had spread to my bones; I was now classified as stage IV and not a candidate for surgery, radiation, or standard chemotherapy,” she recalls. The …

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What Are the Differences Between Adult and Childhood Brain Tumors?


Brain tumors are relatively rare for people of any age, but they can occur in both children and adults. In fact, tumors of the spinal cord and brain are the second most common types of cancer in children, after leukemia. But there are some key differences between brain tumors that occur in adults and those in children. “Compared to adults, children are more likely to develop tumors in the lower parts of the brain – the brain stem and cerebellum – which are areas that affect movement and coordination,” says Mark Kieran, MD, PhD, director of Pediatric Medical Neuro-Oncology at …

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Creating a Legacy with Metastatic Breast Cancer

Creating a legacy with metastatic breast cancer

This post originally appeared on Critical Mass as part of the 2015 National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week. By Beth Fairchild My name is Beth Fairchild. In my former life, I was an artist, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend. Now, while I may still be all of these, I have added fearless fighter and breast cancer advocate to the list of things that make me, me. This is my new, cancer life. A year ago my life was pretty normal. My husband and I were successful business owners. We were raising our daughter and preparing to adopt another. I …

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Nurses Feel ‘Privilege’ of Working with Patients and Colleagues

Honoring Dana-Farber nurses

Dana-Farber oncology nurses have grown accustomed to being asked how they can do such a difficult job every day. But talk with them and you’ll learn that they feel far more blessed than burdened by these challenges. In honor of National Nurses Week May 6-12, we asked four Dana-Farber nurses to reflect on what drew them to the field of oncology, and what they enjoy most about it. “It’s a privilege to help people on their cancer journey,” says Laurie Appleby, NP, of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology. “The human connection we make with patients and families, and the …

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