Busted: Five Myths About Breast Cancer

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There’s a broad range of news and information about breast cancer online. That creates wonderful opportunities to learn about prevention, treatment, cures and recurrence. But it also means you may run into confusing misinformation and oversimplifications. Here are some popular misconceptions:   MYTH #1 Most breast cancer is hereditary. While it’s true that a woman’s risk factor for developing breast cancer doubles if a first-degree relative has the disease, this statistic doesn’t tell the whole story. In the vast majority of cases, breast cancer is not caused by an inherited gene defect (or mutation). Only 5 to 10 percent of breast …

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Act of Kindness Sparks Friendship Between Two Neighbors

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Those passing them in the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care at Dana-Farber may assume Pamela Desmarais is a dutiful daughter taking her elderly father to his appointments. They certainly look the part, but while Pamela Desmarais cares for 84-year-old prostate cancer patient Donald Segur, there is no familial bond between these two neighbors from East Sandwich, Mass. Just a special friendship, formed from a selfless act. Desmarais, a nurse, first met Segur when she was caring for his late wife, Margaret. After Margaret passed away last fall, she kept checking in on Segur and noticed he was looking gaunt and …

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New Look for Dana-Farber’s Insight Blog

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Frequent visitors of Insight might have noticed a revised look to the blog. We recently rolled out the refreshed design with a cleaner look and layout. We also added a few new features, including an email subscription option. You’ll find that sign-up tool in the blue bar above, and also in the right column. To make sure that you receive the latest updates from Insight, just enter your email address and click subscribe. You’ll get notifications of new posts, and you can unsubscribe at any time. If you’re looking for a particular post, you can find it using the search box …

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Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together

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By Jenn Perry When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36, it was like déjà vu for my family. My mother had been diagnosed with the same disease at the same age, while pregnant with her third child. I learned I had breast cancer just six months after giving birth to my second daughter. My aunt also battled the disease, and my younger sister was diagnosed with a breast cancer very similar to the hormone-sensitive type I have. Although my sisters and I have been proactive about breast cancer screenings from a young age, genetic testing never crossed our …

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Patient’s Grandson: How My Grandfather Inspires Me

Many young boys have special relationships with their grandfathers. Few express their feelings as eloquently as young Oliver Parry. Inspired by his grandfather’s work and his battle with cancer, the nine-year-old penned the essay below, winning a regional award from the 2013-2014 Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Reflections contest, and potentially qualifying for a national competition. Oliver’s story reminds us that cancer’s reach is wide, and it affects the patient’s whole family. The essay is as inspiring to us as Oliver’s grandfather is to him, particularly given the year that Oliver went through; the young boy lives in Newtown, Conn., and …

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Questions to Ask When Your Child Finishes Cancer Treatment

By Julia Pettengill Our daughter Sophie was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2½, and received two years of care at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. While I felt tremendous joy and relief when she completed treatment, I also found the experience traumatic.

Giving Platelets – and Hope – to Cancer Patients

Ninety minutes. That’s all it takes to save a life when you donate platelets at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. For Baila Janock, these 90 minutes are practically a weekly occurrence since her late husband Irving Janock was treated for pancreatic cancer at Dana-Farber in the mid-1980s. Last summer, after more than 30 years of volunteering at Dana-Farber and making more than 200 platelet donations, Janock joined “Team 20” yet again – an honor bestowed upon donors who give platelets more than 20 times in a year.

‘You Have Us’: DF/BWCC Ad Campaign Launches

What is different and special about Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center? Several doctors and nurses answer this question in a new advertising campaign. The campaign promotes the specialized care and team approach provided in Boston and at regional care centers in South Weymouth and Milford, Mass. Behind DF/BWCC patient care is a team that collaborates with one another and accompanies patients through their cancer journey, the ads show. The campaign consists of three television ads as well as radio and print advertising. The theme of “You have us” carries through all media, encouraging viewers to “Take the first step together” with …

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Revisiting Cancer Care in Rwanda: One Year Later

By Lori Buswell, RN I recently returned from a three-month rotation as a nurse fellow at a comprehensive cancer center at Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, a tiny African country known as the “land of a thousand hills.” The hospital, built and operated by the Ministry of Health and Partners In Health, is located in a rural, mountainous area where most residents are farmers. Because most homes do not have running water, people fill up 5-gallon jugs at the local water spigot.