Helping Cancer Survivors Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Eric Zhou, PhD- SMALL

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 …

Continue reading

What You Need to Know for Life After Childhood Cancer Treatment

SMALL_Lisa Diller, M.D.

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 …

Continue reading

Young Patients Create Global Artwork

20150211_ICCDCrafts-1

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 …

Continue reading

Can Babies Be Born with Cancer?

Can babies be born with cancer?

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 – …

Continue reading

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. …

Continue reading

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

buttons

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 …

Continue reading

How to Manage Family Life When Your Child Has Cancer

SMALL_family pic

By Valerie Graf When our daughter, Ruby, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at one and a half years old, my husband and I were immediately transformed from working parents with two young children, to parental caregivers for a child with cancer. Between hospital stays, medications and appointments, there was so much to keep track of. It can be overwhelming at times, but there are ways to manage life after your child is diagnosed with cancer. Settle into to this new normal. It can be easy to stay in crisis mode when something like a cancer diagnosis interrupts your …

Continue reading

New Therapy for ‘Bubble Boy’ Disease Gives Chilean Boy a Chance for a Healthy Life

Gabriel_02-landscape_DSCN9299

Gabriel Solis is a typical 3-year-old. He likes puzzles and swimming and singing. He shakes off colds like other children. Gabriel, however, is not like other children. He has a functioning immune system thanks to an international gene therapy trial for “bubble boy” disease whose early success was reported recently in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). When Gabriel was 4½ months old, no longer protected by his mother’s immunity, he came down with a fever and pneumonia that landed him in the intensive care unit of the local hospital in the family’s hometown of La Serena, Chile. A …

Continue reading

Room Makeovers Help Young Patients Feel at Home

SOG_4757_14

Ana Karen Ventura may be a long way from home, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. Ventura, 11, is an inpatient at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, but her hospital room at Boston Children’s Hospital looks more like the bedroom of any tween girl. There are posters of flowers and her favorite celebrities, paper butterflies hanging from the ceiling, and blue and purple lights strung around her window, door, and mirror. A colorful bedspread matches the shade of her new lamp, and a portable dresser has the credo “Bald Girls Rock!” highlighted on its top. She just …

Continue reading

How a Navy SEAL Veteran Helps Kids with Cancer

Adam LaReau has seen courage. The 34-year-old Navy SEAL combat veteran spent 11 years serving his country, and has seen courage in the actions of his fellow SEALS and through the children of fallen comrades who must learn to grow up without their fathers. Now living in Boston, LaReau has found a way to channel these two examples of bravery. Through a nonprofit program he started called One Summit, he is pairing up SEALS with young cancer patients from Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and other hospitals for a day of indoor rock climbing activities in which confidence …

Continue reading