Breast Cancer Survivor Barbara Stinson Turns to Nature and Photography

To most people, a flower is just a flower. To 70-year-old Barbara Stinson, flowers represent beauty, energy and positivity. A two-time breast cancer survivor, she has combined her passions of gardening and photography in her new book, “PINK PETALS: A Focus on Healing through a Gallery of Flowers.” Each of the 80 pages of the book features an intimate photograph of a pink flower – a color, she says once was a mere fashion choice, but now has taken on a whole new meaning. Each picture is accompanied by an inspirational passage, which links artistic details of the flower to life …

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What are Merkel Cells?

Because long-term exposure to sunlight is considered a risk factor for Merkel cell carcinoma, it’s important to limit your exposure to UV rays.

Merkel cells are found just below your skin’s surface, on the lowest level of your top layer of skin (the epidermis). Connected to nerve endings associated with the sensation of touch, Merkel cells play a key role in helping us identify fine details and textures by touch. A rare and dangerous form of skin cancer known as Merkel cell carcinoma is thought to originate from Merkel cells when they grow out of control. This disease usually appears as a painless skin nodule (lump) that can be skin-colored, red, or violet, most often developing in areas of skin exposed to the …

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Real Superheroes: A Teen Talks about What Happens When Both Parents Have Cancer

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By E.R. Seventeen-year-old E.R. reflects on both parents’ battles with cancer. For this post, E.R. and the family wished to remain anonymous.  Simply put, the role of a parent is to take on more roles. From lab coat supermodel and expert peanut-butter-and-jelly chef to personal shopper and bodyguard; parents do whatever it takes to provide for (and entertain) their children. This is why, to children, moms and dads are the real superheroes. Whether they’re flying in to save the city or magically appearing on your bad days, they swoop in just in time, every time. But every superhero has their …

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Woman Finds Inspiration for Jimmy Fund Walk While Traveling the Country

It all began as a way to celebrate being 65 and healthy. Barbara Sirvis had been getting herself into the best shape she had been in since retiring as a college president. She wanted to recognize her accomplishment by doing something big, something that she couldn’t have done before. After some convincing from her friend and veteran walker, Betty McEnaney, Sirvis had her challenge: the Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai. That was year one, and Sirvis is now training for year four. But she no longer does it for herself; she does it for the patients and …

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Five Questions About Vitamin D

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Sometimes known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced by the body in response to sunlight, vitamin D is important for maintaining strong bones and ensuring healthy functioning of the lungs, cardiovascular system, immune system, and brain. Because of concerns that excessive sun exposure can lead to skin cancer, some people may avoid spending much time outdoors – potentially lowering their vitamin D levels if they don’t get enough of the vitamin through diet or supplements. Here are some vitamin D basics:  How does vitamin D work in the body? It plays an important role in regulating the amounts of …

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Young Adult Patients Bond Over a Shared Diagnosis

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By Lisa Belanger and Carolyn Ridge  One of the most challenging aspects of having cancer is finding someone you can relate to. And who better to understand you than another cancer survivor? This is our story of cancer and friendship. Lisa’s Story: I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the ripe age of 29 on Sept. 12, 2011, upon waking up from surgery to remove what was thought to be a benign ovarian cyst. I was in my final semester of graduate school and nearly a year into the most serious long-term relationship of my life. I had plans to advance my …

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What are the Most Common Sites for Melanoma?

Yawkey Center for Cancer Care healing garden.

Melanoma, the most severe form of skin cancer, results from an interaction between the genetics of the individual and damage to DNA from external factors. In the case of melanoma, most of the environmental damage is due to exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun. The cancer develops in the pigment-producing cells of the skin and can occur elsewhere in the body, including, rarely, inside the eye. In men, melanoma is most commonly found on the back and other places on the trunk (from the shoulders to the hips) or the head and neck. The most common sites in women …

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Lymphoma Survivor Tackles Breast Cancer While Helping Fellow Patients

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By Catherine Goff When you’re 21, the last words you expect to hear are “you have cancer.” But, that was exactly the news I received in 1976 after a routine trip to my college infirmary landed me in Boston Children’s Hospital with Hodgkin lymphoma. Thanks to new treatments developed through clinical trials and a summer undergoing radiation therapy at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), I was deemed cancer-free. While I wanted to say, “I beat it,” I knew the five-year mark was a big milestone for Hodgkin lymphoma patients, and I was nervous until I reached that goal. How much …

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh ‘Proud to be a Cancer Survivor’

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh recently gave the keynote address at Dana-Farber’s Living Proof: Celebrating Survivorship event. He shared his experience as a child being treated for Burkitt’s lymphoma at Dana-Farber and Boston Children’s Hospital. Below are some excerpts from his speech:  I was diagnosed with cancer at age 7. I went through treatment for almost four years. At 7-years old, I didn’t really know what was going on and how serious it was – and it was pretty serious. For many years I missed a lot of school. I missed most of my second and third grades. When I finally went into remission, …

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The ‘ATEs’: What Helps Me Get Through Treatment Days

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By Alex Niles Alex Niles was diagnosed with Stage IV gastric cancer in fall 2013, at age 30. He holds an undergraduate degree from Drexel University, where he was a Division 1 scholarship athlete, and a graduate degree from Fordham University. He writes about his cancer experience on his blog, Smiles for Niles and his work has been featured in the NY Times and Huffington Post. He lives and thrives in New York City. As I get closer to treatment day, I’m filled with a mixed bag of emotions; I’m excited to go into battle and beat this illness down, …

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