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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and those around you. But will cancer patients benefit from the flu shot given their immunity and treatment status? It is safe for patients who have not had a stem cell transplant to get the flu shot, and are highly […]
By Catherine MacLean The health care transition from pediatric to adult practitioners is an important process for any young adult, but it is especially critical for cancer survivors. Typically, this transition takes place sometime between ages 16 and 21. I was diagnosed with aplastic anemia at age 4 and had […]
By Frannie Palmer As a kid, I stumbled on my feet quite a bit. I had to use two hands on the railing while going down stairs. My parents thought I was just a little clumsy. The truth was, a brain tumor was creating pressure on my cerebellum and causing […]
Hearing the words “you have cancer” can be hard enough, but what is it like to hear them echoed for a loved one? Having two cancer patients in one family calls for extra strength from everyone involved. Karen Perry was undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer when she and her husband […]
Some 100 days after receiving a stem cell transplant to cure his severe aplastic anemia, 13-year-old Behaylu Barry still couldn’t invite friends into his home. He can’t return to school until January, when his immune system will finally be strong enough to fight the pathogens present in indoor spaces. Yet […]
Kate Franklin was 3½-years old in August 2000, when her mother brought her to the Boston Children’s Hospital emergency room because she was bruising easily and couldn’t seem to shake a strep throat. Loren Walensky, MD, PhD, had just started his fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology in July, and that night […]
When Lisa Robert is interviewed at Fenway Park for the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon presented by Arbella Insurance Foundation (Aug 19-20), her mind will no doubt drift back to 1976, when she was a 7-year-old leukemia patient at Dana-Farber and had the thrill of her life. She threw out the […]
In the midst of a serious illness, there are glimpses of a childhood intact: painting a ceramic ladybug, reading “Froggy Learns to Swim” before bed with siblings Drew, 10, Meghan, 8, and Daniel, 2, and joining friends in the outfield for a summer staple – a baseball game. These are […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
By Tom Ulrich Last month, the American Cancer Society (ACS) released “Cancer Statistics, 2014,” their annual estimate of new cancers diagnoses and deaths for the year ahead. The report was heavily focused on adult malignancies—not surprisingly, given that the number of adult cancer patients in the nation is orders of magnitudes greater […]
Joanne Wolfe, MD, MPH, founded the Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) in 1997 to help ensure children who are living with life-threatening diseases like cancer, and their families, enjoy the best quality of life. The program, a part of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and the Department of […]
By Jordan Leandre I don’t remember a lot about my treatment process – after all, I was only about 2 1/2. Here is some stuff that I do remember.
As 2013 comes to a close, we’re looking back at some of our favorite Insight posts from the last year. From inspiring patient stories to important research, here is our top 10 list:
Stem cell transplantation (sometimes called bone marrow transplants) is a treatment for certain forms of cancer, such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma, as well as other diseases. But before a patient can receive a transplant, stem cells must be collected from a donor (an allogeneic donation) or from the […]
Each year, Dana-Farber patients join clinicians, staff, and the Boston Red Sox to share their stories of inspiration and their belief in the research advances at Dana-Farber during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon at Fenway Park. This year, nearly 100 patients, including Rayquan Fregeau, who used art and resources from […]
By Catherine MacLean “Why is this coming up now?” “It’s been 10 years. I should be over this already.” “Why is this happening to me? All of the other survivors I know seem fine.” These thoughts preoccupied me during the transition from high school to college. It had been 10 […]
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. We asked Lisa Diller, MD, chief medical officer at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, to answer these important questions. What signs might lead a child’s pediatrician to suspect cancer? Cancer is very diverse, and diagnosis is further complicated because many signs and symptoms—like fever, […]
Jack Robinson is a special kid. Diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 11, he tackled treatment if not with a smile on his face, then with a joke on his lips… or more accurately, on paper. The Massachusetts resident compiled and edited a joke book called, “Make ‘em […]
By Saul Wisnia Rayquan “Ray” Fregeau’s smile lights up a room, even after five days of chemotherapy. His upbeat personality infuses his poetry, but until recently the 17-year-old patient at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center had trouble putting into words what he’s gone through since his February cancer diagnosis, […]
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, palliative care and hospice care differ in several important ways for cancer patients – most notably, the stage of treatment at which they are given. Both types of care focus on relieving patients’ pain and discomfort, whether caused by the cancer itself or […]
By Saul Wisnia As the baseball world gathers at Citi Field in New York City for tonight’s All-Star Game, here’s a look back at 60 years of all-star partnership between the Boston Red Sox and the Jimmy Fund – which supports cancer research and care at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
By Melanie Graham During a child’s cancer therapy and recovery process, insomnia can often be viewed as only a side effect in the scope of treatment-related symptoms. However, there are many physical and psychological implications that develop when a child does not sleep well, says Eric Zhou, PhD, a clinical […]
By Lori Buswell, RN I recently returned from a three-month rotation as a nurse fellow at a comprehensive cancer center at Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, a tiny African country known as the “land of a thousand hills.” The hospital, built and operated by the Ministry of Health and Partners In […]
By Eric Schuller Palliative care is often misunderstood. People may associate it with end-of-life care or “giving up” – especially when facing a serious health challenge like cancer. But palliative care may not be what you think, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it. Here’s a closer look […]
Dana-Farber celebrates cancer survivorship in June with Living Proof, an annual series of events that includes workshops and programs as well as a keynote reception on June 20. The end of treatment is an important milestone for any cancer patient, but it can also be a time of anxiety. In […]
By Robert Haddad, MD Human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccinations were originally advised only for girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Pediatrics now recommend that both girls and boys be vaccinated. The recommendations are well founded: HPV infection is the number one cause of […]
By Caroline Rider For many families with children, summer is a time for vacations, outings, and fun. However, a summer vacation when your child has cancer can seem out of the question. But sometimes, a summer getaway is just what the doctor ordered.
Actress Angelina Jolie is no stranger to the headlines, but she stunned the world with her Op-Ed in The New York Times, in which she shared her very private decision to have a preventive double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. “I hope that other women can benefit […]
By Stephen Sallan, MD Today, three quarters or more of all childhood cancer patients will be cured of their disease, a higher percentage than ever before. And the numbers will only get better as we learn more about the biology of childhood cancers and develop new ways of treating them.
by Naomi Funkhouser April 2011 was an auspicious month for Hilary Hall. The start of spring marked 15 years of her being cancer-free, as well as the anniversary of her bone marrow transplant in April 1996 at age 12 for acute myelogenous leukemia. It also marked the first time Hall […]
by Saul Wisnia Like many New Englanders, Fernando Morales can’t wait for Opening Day and the start of the baseball season. And, even if his favorite Boston Red Sox aren’t doing well, this 18-year-old high school senior from Norwood, Mass., says he’ll never waver in his devotion. He has good […]
Having cancer as a teen or young adult can throw your life off track. Just when you’re learning to drive, planning your prom, or playing your favorite sport, you find yourself sick, bald, and in the hospital. And you worry about your appearance – especially if you’re a girl.
By Jane Roper When our five-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia (ALL) last summer, our world was turned upside down. Extended hospital stays, twice weekly clinic visits, the side effects of chemo and the constant possibility of unexpected hospital admissions mean stress and exhaustion for all of us. And looming […]
When Gov. Deval Patrick signed an oral chemotherapy parity bill into law on January 5, Massachusetts joined more than 20 states requiring health plans to cover oral cancer pills at a rate no less favorable than standard intravenous (IV) chemotherapy. The new law tells insurers that they cannot require higher […]
by Saul Weingart, MD, PhD Flu has arrived in the northeast with a vengeance. The City of Boston declared the flu epidemic a public health emergency. Perhaps someone you know has been sick with the flu. Influenza can be serious for anyone, but for a cancer patient, the stakes are […]
Faced with an abundance of cancer stories in the news and our own personal experiences with cancer, we may fear that there’s a growing “epidemic” of the disease. Not so. A new report says that overall, deaths from cancer are continuing to decline, as they have for nearly two decades.
For David Williams, MD, the field of pediatrics offers two great attractions. “It is wonderful because of the kinds of patients you take care of,” he says. “But also because of the personalities of pediatricians – in pediatrics you find very compassionate and caring people.” Williams embodies that compassion and […]
by Sara Dickison Taylor You wouldn’t be able to tell just by meeting them, but high-school student Molly Callahan and Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center nurse Lindsay Roache, RN, have a few things in common: They’ve survived cancer, and they’re committed to helping others.
It’s hard to believe that the holidays are upon us – again. The stores are overflowing with holiday goods as families gear up for their celebrations. However, if someone you love has recently died, thinking about the holidays may bring you anguish. What were once happy times might now fill […]
What would happen if you were accidentally knocked unconscious and had to be taken to the emergency room? Would doctors know who to go to with questions about your care? A health care proxy form is a legal document that names a trusted person who can make medical decisions for […]
by Barbara Virchick On July 18, 2012, a Cancer Center of Excellence opened in Butaro, Rwanda, as a collaboration between Partners In Health and Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. I was fortunate to have been there during this exciting time, working as part of a three-month fellowship to help train […]
With Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana-Farber has performed thousands of stem cell/bone marrow transplants for adult and pediatric patients with blood cancers and other serious illnesses. What’s the difference between these two terms? As it turns out, the only real distinction is in the method of […]
Helping a loved one face cancer is never easy, but the challenge is especially daunting when the patient is your own child. Our clinicians at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center work with pediatric cancer patients and their families every day. Lisa Diller, MD, Anna Muriel, MD, and Jorge […]
By Mark Kieran, MD, PhD In 2006, a group of Egyptian doctors arrived at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to seek our help. Could we teach them how to care for the rising numbers of children with cancer, in their own country?
Steven Clifford is an 18-year-old osteosarcoma survivor. A Boston native, he starts college at the University of California, San Diego this month. This is his story. Life is made up of many difficult decisions. However, imagine my surprise when I had to make a tough and potentially life changing decision […]
For years, researchers have sought an avenue to deliver chemotherapy directly to retinoblastoma tumors – cancers of the retina of the eye, which primarily affect children under age 5. It turns out that the body itself offers just such a route.
As a cancer researcher, Kimberly Stegmaier, MD, says her chosen profession offers “the mystery and excitement of discovery.” And she says the same is true of her passion outside the laboratory: dance. “It’s a huge hook for me,” she says. Both in scientific research and in working on a dance […]
Although swollen lymph nodes (also known as swollen glands) are usually a sign of an infection or inflammation, they can, very infrequently, be a sign of cancer or a rare disorder. Rachael Grace, MD, and Christopher Weldon, MD, PhD, co-directors of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center’s Node Assessment […]
Every Sunday, the Cutter family holds a Chemofeast. The door to their home is open to any and all who wish to attend. It’s a day full of food, beverages, and a lot of laughter, and 15-year-old Blake Cutter gets to choose the menu. Then on Monday, his mother, Lois, […]
Maddie Dillon, 17, did not really understand what cancer was when she was diagnosed at age 8. With the help of Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic, she beat her leukemia, but only briefly. Six months later it came back, and she went through more treatment.
Henry Fenollosa’s problems began before he was born, when he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. His infancy was was spent largely at Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic, where he received treatment for his disease with his family looking on. Today, Henry’s an active seven-year-old, who loves to show off his lacrosse stickhandling […]
One of the easiest and most effective ways to help cancer patients is to give blood. There is a constant need for donations, but especially so in the summer when people are on vacation and unable to donate. One pint of blood can save up to two lives, and one […]
The dirt roads in northern Rwanda now lead to a cancer center where patients can receive care for a disease that was, until now, considered a death sentence there. The Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, which was dedicated on July 18, has allowed Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center to extend a […]
The call of the beach is hard to ignore on sunny summer days. Yet many teens and young adults do not follow protection tips when they hit the sand. They remain the most difficult age group to convince that ultraviolet (UV) rays, which come from the sun and indoor tanning […]
In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship. To look at 9-year-old baseball player and Lego champion Charlie Rider, you’d never guess he’d had cancer for nearly half his life.
In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship. When Dana-Farber launched its David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic nearly 20 years ago, it was one of the nation’s first programs dedicated to helping childhood cancer survivors. From the beginning, the pediatric survivorship clinic has been guided […]
With the pitter patter of small feet, Phil makes his way through the halls of Boston Children’s Hospital. He walks with a purpose, boarding the elevator that takes him to the oncology floor for his next appointment. Phil is a new face in 6 North, the oncology unit at Dana-Farber/Boston […]
Hilary Olson had no reason to suspect that her daughter Hailey might have a brain tumor. “Her smile was starting to droop a little, and one of her eyes was a little jumpy,” says the 6-year-old’s mother. “We took her to see a neurologist, and he thought she might have […]
No one would choose the way Glen Jusczyk and Greg Kelly became friends: at the bedsides of their little girls with cancer. Yet these extraordinary circumstances created not just a friendship, but a desire to give back to the place providing their children’s care. On April 16, these dads, who […]
By Sara Dickison Taylor When our daughter Emily was diagnosed with leukemia at age 5, we found solace and support from other families facing pediatric cancer at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Our visits to Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic became a well-rehearsed play. If it was Friday, it […]
Mattel Inc., maker of Barbie dolls, last week announced that it would create a bald version of the popular fashion doll to support people battling cancer. The announcement came a few months after Beautiful and Bald Barbie, a Facebook group that petitioned Mattel to make a hairless version of the […]
At age 7, Sophie was treated for a brain tumor at Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center. As a result of her treatment, she struggled with ongoing fatigue, weakness on her right side, and chronic headaches. Sophie began her freshman year as one of 2,000 students at a large public high school. […]
Imagine being 22 and having your two biggest fears come true: You have cancer, and your treatment may leave you unable to have children in the future. While you’re still coming to terms with the diagnosis, you now have to make some major life decisions. Do you want to freeze […]
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 […]
On International Childhood Cancer Day, it’s important to remember that global support, research, and treatment are vital to ensuring that children in developing countries have the same chance at survival as their peers in the U.S. Physicians such as Dr. Leslie Lehmann from Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center travel […]