What to do if Your Child Relapses

Deanna and Tatyana AbramsSMALL

Relapse is a word any cancer patient dreads, but for parents of children with cancer, fear of the cancer coming back can be acute. Yet, “a cure is possible for many patients whose cancer returns,” says Barbara Degar, MD.  “We approach the second experience with the same rigor we brought the first time, and come up with the best strategy to achieve a second remission.” About 15-20 percent of children with acute lymphoblastic  leukemia (ALL) will relapse, 40 percent of children with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), and 50 percent of children with neuroblastoma. In some cases, treatment the second time …

Continue reading

Salvadoran Doctor Sets Sights on Changing Pediatric Oncology in Her Country

SOG_1264_13SMALL

By Dr. Soad Fuentes Alabi Soad Fuentes Alabi, MD, visited Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center as part of the Global Health Initiative. She shares her experience with Insight readers. In El Salvador, where I come from, in a population of more than 5 million, there are almost 1.1 million children ages 1-14. For all of those children, there is only one pediatric hospital. As a doctor who specializes in pediatric oncology, I was thrilled when I got the chance to come to America. Through the St. Baldrick’s International Scholar Award, I had the opportunity to come to the U.S. …

Continue reading

As Pediatric Cancer Survivors, Mother and Daughter Share Unique Bond

SOG_1740_14SMALL

  Jessica Tierney never thought she’d experience a harder moment than learning she had cancer at age 15 – until her 7-year-old daughter, Emma, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) last October. Emma is undergoing treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic, just as Jessica did in 1991. “Emma already knew I had once been really sick, so I told her, ‘Look at me. I was treated a long time ago, and the medicine is even better now,” Jessica Tierney recalls of hearing her daughter’s diagnosis. Jessica is a survivor of acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, …

Continue reading

New Research Shows Promise for Pediatric Brain Tumor Treatment

SOG_2960_14-2

Every year, about 4,700 children in the United States are diagnosed with brain cancer –­ making it the most common solid tumor in children. It is also one of the most difficult cancers to treat. Brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children under age 10 and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in people under 20. Although survival rates for children with some types of brain tumors have risen over the past 30 years, current research aims to increase those rates dramatically in the years ahead. Scientists are focusing on the basic genetic and genomic …

Continue reading

Young Patient Inspires with Fashion and Beauty Blog

4.16.14 Young Patient InspiresSmall

When 15-year-old Karina Moreira sat down with Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen in December 2013, the two traded beauty tips, talked fashion, and took turns applying makeup. They spoke in their native Portuguese and laughed with family and friends. The experience, Moreira says, one that she will remember for the rest of her life. But the two talked about more than just eye shadow and clothes; they also talked about life and Moreira’s battle with bone cancer. Bundchen, who surprised Moreira at home, offered some advice for the young girl: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” “My life may be …

Continue reading

How a Port Can Make Cancer Treatments Easier

4.14.14 PortSmall

For more than five years, Sally Boyd had repeated needle punctures in her arm for blood draws, chemotherapy, and other procedures for multiple myeloma. “The nurses said I had good veins, so at first it was easy for them to insert the needle,” Boyd recalls. “But as time went on, my arms were bruised and sore.” Dana-Farber has led the way in introducing new therapies that have transformed this type of blood cancer from a fatal disease to a chronic illness. However, living with multiple myeloma or other types of cancer often calls for procedures involving needles. Today, Boyd has …

Continue reading

To Share or Not to Share? That is the Question

4.9.14 To Share or NotSmall

One of the most difficult aspects of having cancer is deciding who to tell and when. For young adults who may be attending college, maintaining an active social life, or starting a family, these questions are especially critical. Karen Fasciano, PsyD, and her colleagues in the Young Adult Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), addressed these questions and others at the 11th annual Young Adult Cancer Conference last month. Bruce MacDonald, MSW, LICSW, who leads the young adult cancer support group at DF/BWCC, spoke with patients about sharing their diagnoses with three critical groups: Family and Friends While …

Continue reading

When is an Antipsychotic Not an Antipsychotic? When it’s an Antileukemic

By Tom Ulrich One of the hot trends in drug discovery could be called drug re-discovery: finding new uses for drugs that have already received FDA approval for a different indication. It’s an approach that allows researchers and clinicians to rapidly test potential treatments for rare or difficult-to-treat conditions. Because the drug’s safety profile is already known, much of the preclinical and early clinical work that goes into developing a drug can be bypassed.

Coping With Cancer Through Creative Expression

A cancer diagnosis brings more than physical challenges. Patients and loved ones must also manage the emotional toll that can come with it. Storytelling, through word, pictures or other creative expression, can be an effective way to deal with these emotions and help with the healing process. Some people look to painting or writing, while others may cope through dance, music, or a tattoo. We want you to share your story with us. Whether it’s a piece of artwork, a blog post, or a small tattoo on your wrist – show us how you coped with a cancer diagnosis. Submit …

Continue reading

Feedback Friday: How to Support Cancer Patients

Cancer does not have to be a solo journey. Every diagnosis involves doctors, nurses, family members and friends. Sometimes, support from these people can give that extra push to get you through a chemo infusion, or another radiation treatment. We recently asked our Facebook followers about the best support they’ve received as a patient, or provided as a caregiver. Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories. Here is a sample of they had to say: