My Lifetime Movie: How Cancer Changed Me

Deb March 2015

By Deb Norris My life plays like a Lifetime movie. I was born tall, blonde, with big breasts (note – they later tried to kill me). I was the straight-A cheerleader who dated the captain of the football team and became a corporate executive.  Friends teased me that I lived a charmed life. Then at 38, I lost my husband to glioblastoma, the “deadliest of all brain tumors”. It was a 16-month fight that confirmed my belief that what does not kill you, makes you stronger. A couple years later, I reconnected with the football captain and married him for …

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Survivor, Hero, Battle: The Complicated Language of Cancer

The language of cancer

The language used to talk about cancer often focuses on battle words – those who are cured “won” or “survived,” while those who die from cancer “lost” their “fight.” But is cancer really something to be won or lost? Young adults with cancer discussed these phrases and others during the recent Young Adult Cancer Conference hosted by the Young Adult Program at Dana-Farber. Labeling your cancer, and yourself as a patient or survivor, is often one of the most challenging aspects of the cancer experience, they said. Loved ones and those without cancer often consider cancer patients “heroes,” but, as …

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Running Boston: ‘The Only Way I Know How’

SMALL_RunDFMC Page

By Eric Kaye If you were living under a rock this winter… that is, a rock buried by seven feet of snow like most people around Boston, here is what you might have missed. The Patriots won the Super Bowl, Zayn Malik left One Direction, and Boston set an all-time record for snowfall. Also, somewhere hidden behind the snow banks that narrowed the city sidewalks, runners were training for the Boston Marathon. This is my 8th year repeating a ritual march from Hopkinton to Boston on the third Monday in April. All eight Boston Marathons run the only way I …

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Fighting Cancer by Day, Fighting for Cancer Research by Night

By John Quackenbush, PhD Everyone at Dana-Farber knows me as a scientist. Maybe a little crazy, but dedicated to cracking the code that drives cancer. And everyone who has spent time with me knows that I can talk (seemingly endlessly) about my work. But today I am going to share a different story about an unlikely boxer, ready to give and take punches to raise money for cancer research. I remember the evening in August when I sat down with my family after dinner to explain what I was thinking about doing and to ask their permission because I knew …

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For ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Star Uzo Aduba, Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Is Personal

Uzo Aduba

Emmy Award-winning actress and Medfield, Mass., native Uzo Aduba has won numerous accolades for her portrayal of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on the Netflix original series, “Orange Is the New Black.” On April 20, Aduba’s fans will be cheering her on as she tackles a new role – running her first Boston Marathon® to support cancer research as part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC). “Running the Boston Marathon has been a lifelong dream, and I am proud to be supporting Dana-Farber as I make this dream come true on April 20,” says Aduba. “As someone who grew up outside …

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Chronicling Cancer Research in Books and Film

david nathan, md

In two recent books and the Ken Burns TV documentary, “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies”, prominent researchers explain eloquently why cancer is such a stubborn problem and detail how the latest treatment strategies are gaining ground – if slowly. “There have been so many wonderful changes,” says David G. Nathan, MD, president emeritus of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a noted pioneer in treating inherited blood disorders . “But I try to make people understand that they have to be patient; it’s slow, steady progress, but we’ll get there.” In Nathan’s 2007 book, “The Cancer Treatment Revolution,” he describes the …

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Which U.S. States Have the Highest Cancer Rates? [Infographic]

cancer rates by state

In a country as geographically vast as the United States, and with a large and mobile population, it’s not surprising that cancer rates vary by region, by state – and even by localities within states. Geographical differences exist in overall cancer rates and in specific types of cancer, according to a 2014 study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, breast cancer incidence rates are highest in the Northeast, followed by the Midwest and the South. But death rates from breast cancer are highest in the Midwest, followed by the South and the West. Lung …

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Remembering My Father’s Journey with Multiple Myeloma

By Elise Renner There’s a 1-in-12 chance that this is the month yours or your loved one’s cancer is recognized—odds better than the survival rates for some of these diseases. Some months, like October, boast big names like breast cancer. Others, like September, are crowded with lesser-known branches of the disease. “Cancer apparel,” including ribbons and jewelry, is marketed with pretty colors, one for each type of cancer, and sold to raise money as well as awareness. For my dad, I would wear maroon. Multiple myeloma, maroon, March – whoever decided this must’ve been keen on alliteration. This month I …

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Does Pregnancy Increase Risk of Breast Cancer?

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The link between pregnancy and breast cancer has been a focus of breast cancer research over the last decade, which has shown that there are a variety of factors related to pregnancy that can play a role in developing breast cancer. After a pregnancy, a woman’s short-term risk of breast cancer increases for 2-15 years, says Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, medical oncologist in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, and director of the Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer. Past studies have not been able to conclude a definitive reason for this short-term increased risk. However, if a …

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Can Cancer Survivors Donate Blood or Platelets?

SMALL_Bloodmobile at Copley Square.

Blood products like whole blood and platelets are lifesaving for cancer patients at Dana-Farber and elsewhere. It comes as no surprise, then, that many cancer survivors want to return the favor by donating at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center, which collects blood products to benefit patients at both Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Survivors of solid tumor cancers are eligible to donate blood and platelets beginning one year after they stop taking medication for their cancer; however, survivors of blood cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma, and other blood disorders, are permanently deferred due to the nature of their …

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