By Tim O’Neill
In 2006, my then 33-years-young wife, Kirsten, was diagnosed with Stage III rectal cancer. Her diagnosis was completely unexpected; she was young, a non-smoker and in overall good health. She had chemotherapy and multiple surgeries. Thankfully, we navigated the treatment with an excellent team of healthcare providers, loving family and caring friends.
About three months into her treatment I decided to address a nagging swollen lymph node under my jaw. Fully expecting a Lyme disease diagnosis, I was dismissive. But considering what my wife was going through, I thought I’d better be safe than sorry.
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.”
It’s been suggested that regular use of talcum powder products in the genital area might increase the possibility of ovarian cancer. In theory, particles of talc could travel through the reproductive tract to the ovaries and cause cancer. Research on this potential link has yielded mixed findings, with some studies finding a small increase in risk.
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:
By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD
For cancer patients, a healthy, balanced diet is important for managing symptoms and promoting survivorship and overall wellness. But in a world where it’s nearly impossible to tell one fad diet from the next, it can be difficult to determine which foods are actually good for you. We’re debunking some of the common myths about certain foods:
Their season starts today, and although the Boston Red Sox will have a lot of competition in their quest to repeat as World Series champions, fans can be certain of one thing: a continuation of the baseball team’s special bond with the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Dating from 1953, this is the longest and most successful partnership between a professional sports team and charity in North America. The Red Sox have helped the Jimmy Fund raise millions of dollars for cancer care and research at Dana-Farber through appearances and appeals while befriending patients of all ages.
Here are some highlights from the long-standing connection between these two New England institutions.
By Jack Coates
In May 2001, I was diagnosed with medullablastoma. I was 19 years old and had just finished my freshman year at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island.
Medullablastoma is a cancer that affects the brain and the spine. I had three surgeries, 52 weeks of chemo, and six weeks of radiation. I spent a year and two months in the hospital and went from 217 pounds to 97. I was scared. I was asking God: “Why? Why did it have to happen to me?” It was shocking. Many things went through my mind.
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 your images and stories to our “Coping with Cancer Through Creative Expression” gallery.
Here are a few patients who have found creative ways to cope with their diagnosis:
A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel has recommended that a DNA test should be the primary screening tool for cervical cancer, rather than the traditional Pap smear. The DNA test detects the DNA of human papillomavirus (HPV), the sexually transmitted infection that causes almost all cases of cervical cancer.
“This is an important step forward for cervical cancer screening,” says Alexi Wright, MD, MPH, a medical oncologist in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. Specifically, the DNA test screens for HPV-16 and HPV-18, the two highest-risk HPV strains, as well as 12 other high-risk HPV types, using a blood sample.
It’s well known that excessive sunning and sunburns can foment the development of malignant melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer. Now, in a preliminary study, scientists have suggested that drinking alcohol may be an added risk factor for the disease.