How to Provide Cancer Care When Resources are Scarce

SMALL_Larry Shulman at the entrance to Butaro Hospital in Rwanda.

Is it fair that one person with Hodgkin lymphoma will be cured and another will die, simply because of what part of the world they live in? No, says Lawrence Shulman, MD, Dana-Farber’s director of the Center for Global Medicine and senior oncology advisor to Partners In Health (PIH). Shulman, who recently published his perspective in Nature Reviews Cancer, works with Dana-Farber and its partners Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital to bring cancer care to PIH sites in developing countries. He shares his experience in providing cancer care in Rwanda. Q: What is the difference between providing …

Continue reading

Tackling College, Marathons, and Multiple Myeloma

Ethan_Hawes_Marathon

By Ethan Hawes “Having cancer in college doesn’t seem real.” That was my first thought when I received what would become life-changing news at the age of 22 as a senior at the University of Maine (Orono). My body went numb and tears started to form when my doctor told me I had multiple myeloma, a rare form of blood cancer predominately found in people over the age of 65. [Less than one percent of multiple myeloma cases are diagnosed in people younger than 35.] On that infamous July day in 2013, I went from a normal college student to …

Continue reading

How a Navy SEAL Veteran Helps Kids with Cancer

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 found a way to channel these two examples of bravery. Through a nonprofit program he started called One Summit, he is pairing up SEALS with young cancer patients from Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and other hospitals for a day of indoor rock climbing activities in which confidence …

Continue reading

How Does Chemotherapy Work?

SMALL_Oral Chemotherapy pill bottles. chemo drug, chemotherapy drugs, pharmacy, pills

More than half of all people with cancer will get chemotherapy – powerful drugs that kill cancer cells to cure the disease, slow its growth, or reduce its symptoms. There are more than 100 different drugs used in chemotherapy, sometimes alone, but more often in combinations that have proven effective against specific types of cancer. Though traditionally given by injection or intravenous infusion, chemotherapy drugs are increasingly available as pills or liquids that patients can take at home (oral chemotherapy). Administered prior to surgery, chemotherapy may make a tumor smaller and easier to remove. Chemotherapy is often given as an …

Continue reading

Student Goes Above and Beyond for College Community

SOG_7553_13

Like many college students, Kelly Fabrizio has a packed calendar. A sophomore at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, Fabrizio is taking classes to become a research pharmacist. In addition to her studies, she works at a pharmaceutical company and is also applying for pharmacy technician jobs in Boston.   Although Fabrizio has a lot on her plate, volunteering is a big part of her life in Boston. When she moved from Connecticut to attend college, she made it a priority to give back to her new community.  This has included volunteering at a homeless shelter and soup kitchen, and organizing …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

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

superhero tearing off his clothes -cool skin_SMALL

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 …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

Five Questions About Vitamin D

Vitamin AisleSMALL

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 …

Continue reading