Why the Pan-Mass Challenge Is My Kinetic Karma

pan-mass challenge

By Dave Lafreniere I rode in my first Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) the day my mother died. She was a two-time breast cancer survivor who developed an unrelated, rare ocular melanoma while I was training. She passed away in the early morning of August 2, 2002, as I sat by and held her hand. After feeling her heart beat its last, I picked up my bike and headed out to the Wellesley starting line. Getting through that first PMC was much easier than I expected. I was alone, I was grieving, but once I got on the road people were very …

Continue reading

Super Bowl Champion Joe Andruzzi Shares His Cancer Experience

Joe Andruzzi

With six surgeries, multiple injuries, and many knee problems by the time he was 31 years old, three-time Super Bowl champion Joe Andruzzi was no stranger to doctors. But when the former New England Patriots player started experiencing stomach pains in May 2007, everything quickly changed. He and his wife, Jen, recently shared their experience at Dana-Farber’s 12th annual Young Adult Cancer Conference. Everything was put on hold. Joe: I had just finished my tenth year in the NFL, and was ready to train and show people I still had something in the tank, because you get old really fast …

Continue reading

Young Adult Shares Tips for Coping with Cancer

Young adult patients

By Carolyn Ridge On June 1, 2012, at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. The physical toll cancer took on my body was difficult, forcing me into early menopause, but I was even less prepared for the emotional side effects cancer would bring, including the depression I experienced throughout treatment. I am now dealing with a recurrence that was diagnosed in September 2014, but my reaction this time is different, because I am different. I have a care team I trust, cancer tools at my disposal, and, most importantly, I know that I’m not …

Continue reading

Doctor’s Journey Out of Saigon Inspires Clinical Career

Vincent Ho with younger sister circa 1975

For some patients with blood cancers and related disorders, a stem cell transplant offers the possibility of a new beginning . Vincent Ho, MD, clinical director of the Stem Cell Transplantation Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, is no stranger to this feeling of starting fresh. He had his own new beginning when he and his family emigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1978, three years after the fall of Saigon. “The day the war ended [April 30, 1975], I remember the tanks coming through the gates,” says Ho, who was interviewed as part of a special PBS …

Continue reading

Explaining the Complexities of Cancer

4.23.14 MammogramsSmall

This post originally appeared on Cancer Research Catalyst, the official blog of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).  Burgeoning understanding of the biology of cancer has led to advances in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment. These advances mean that a person diagnosed with cancer in the United States today has a greater chance of surviving their diagnosis than ever before. Despite the tremendous advances, almost 600,000 people in the United States are expected to die from cancer this year alone. We asked Eric Winer, MD, chief of the Division of Women’s Cancers and director of the Breast Oncology …

Continue reading

Young Patients’ Artwork Shows Creativity and Courage

SMALL_faces and flashes IMG_1041

The artist Henri Matisse once said, “creativity takes courage.” So does facing cancer as a child. Cancer, creativity and courage merged at a recent exhibit of art by patients of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. The artwork was created during the FACES (Feeling Accepted, Confident, Empowered and Strong) and FLASHES (Filming Life and Sharing Hope, Encouragement and Strength) support groups, which provide Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s patients with socialization, discussion and expression through art. Here is a sampling of the patients’ work and what they say about it: Cassandra Crowley, 20, of Arlington, Massachusetts Lymphoma, stem cell transplant Paintings “I wanted …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading