What Specialists Does a Child See When Diagnosed with Cancer?

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Physicians tend to move quickly when a child is diagnosed with cancer. That’s because some of the most common types of childhood cancers (such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), neuroblastoma, and brain tumors) can appear in a matter of days or weeks and progress rapidly. In such cases, prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are an important part of the treatment plan. So, too, are the specialists a child will see from a first visit onward. At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, a child diagnosed with cancer will usually start by getting a series of medical tests, which …

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Answers to Common Questions About Stem Cell Transplants

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Stem cell transplantation can be a life-saving treatment option for patients with blood cancers or disorders. The procedure, sometimes called bone marrow transplantation, replaces bone marrow that doesn’t work correctly or has been damaged by disease. We spoke with Joseph Antin, MD, co-chief of the Stem Cell Transplantation Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, to learn more about this procedure: Why might I need a stem cell transplant? You might need a stem cell transplant if your bone marrow can’t make enough blood cells or if it produces abnormal blood cells, usually because it is damaged by disease. For …

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How to Manage Stress and Anxiety During Cancer Treatment

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Cancer comes with significant stress and anxiety for patients and their loved ones, which can make managing treatment even more difficult. Recently, Karen Fasciano, PsyD, clinical psychiatrist at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, joined four patients to discuss their experiences. “Often when we tell ourselves we can’t feel anxious, the anxiety gets bigger,” said Fasciano, who provides individual counseling to patients through her role as director of Dana-Farber’s Young Adult Program. “It’s important to recognize when you’re feeling anxious and where it’s coming from.” Kat Caverly (@KatCaverly), Noel Dawes (@NoelDawes), Chris Gazarian (@ChrisGaz), and Carolyn Ridge (@cr1682) joined Fasciano for …

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Patients Celebrate Pig Day: A Jimmy Fund Clinic Tradition

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This post originally appeared on The Jimmy Fund Blog.  By Erica Equi Seven years ago, Martha Young, program manager of Patient and Family Education at Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic, met a young patient who shared her same unique love for pigs. Together, they discovered the seldom-celebrated holiday, National Pig Day, and came up with a creative idea they knew would bring smiles to patients at the Jimmy Fund Clinic. On March 1, 2008 patients and their families walked into the Jimmy Fund Clinic thinking it was going to be a regular day, but were surprised by the pig-inspired festivities there waiting …

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Helping Cancer Survivors Get a Good Night’s Sleep

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Sarah Boczanowski was tired. Her turbulent relationship with sleep, dating back to her childhood, had only worsened since her leukemia diagnosis at age 18. Through biopsies and chemotherapy, she found sleep elusive. “With nurses and doctors coming in and out, and beeping noises from my IVs, it was impossible to sleep,” she says. Boczanowski is not alone. For many cancer patients and survivors, chronic insomnia is a common side effect of living with cancer – possibly triggered by several factors, including the cancer diagnosis, side effects of treatment, fear of recurrence, hospitalization, or chronic pain. Research shows that more than …

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What You Need to Know for Life After Childhood Cancer Treatment

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Completing cancer treatment can bring a range of emotions for pediatric patients and their families. While they may be relieved to finish chemotherapy or radiation, there is often anxiety about relapse, returning to “normal life,” or how to handle side effects that occur years down the road. “Finishing treatment can be a very scary time,” says Lisa Diller, MD, chief medical officer of the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “There is something about regular clinic visits that is very reassuring. When families don’t have to return for a couple of months, they can sometimes feel anxious knowing they …

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Young Patients Create Global Artwork

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Although childhood cancer is relatively rare in the United States, around 200,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year. Of those cases, approximately 80 percent occur in low- and middle-income countries, which average a 20 percent survival rate. The remaining 20 percent of diagnoses are in high-income countries, which average an 80 percent survival rate. In anticipation of International Childhood Cancer Day on February 15, patients at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center recently participated in craft activities that represented some of the 21 countries where the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) works to improve outcomes for children with …

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Can Babies Be Born with Cancer?

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For any parent, having a child with cancer is devastating. For the parents of Carrick Stafford Wood, it was even more so. Carrick was born with cancer, specifically acute myeloid leukemia (or AML). He spent the first six months of his life in the hospital before finally going home on Christmas Day. We spoke to Lisa Diller, MD, clinical director of Pediatric Oncology at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, about this rare scenario. Is it unusual for babies to be born with cancer? It’s unusual, but it can happen. The most common cancer in newborns is neuroblastoma – …

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New Year Brings New Hope for Young Violinist with Brain Tumor

On December 5, just after the students of Carolyn Bever’s Violin Studio finish playing “The First Noel” for the residents of the Pines Senior Living Community in South Burlington, Vermont, 9-year-old Sophie Fellows quietly leaves the stage because of a headache. The next day she is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and the following day she travels by ambulance from the University of Vermont Medical Center to Boston Children’s Hospital. “Christmas concerts are my most favorite part of violin,” Sophie says. “I felt really bad that I couldn’t finish the concert.” The day before Sophie’s surgery, something very special happens. …

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

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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 …

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