Young Adults Share Their Cancer Journeys Through Photos

Nature's Scars

When Jenn Jackson, a trained physician, was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma in 2011 and found out she could no longer practice medicine, the news was devastating. “Getting this cancer diagnosis changed the whole trajectory of my life,” says Jackson, who was diagnosed at 35, after completing 10 years of medical training. But, craving a greater sense of purpose, Jackson soon found a new career: photography. “Now that I have cancer, I pay more attention to things that I see, and I wanted to share that beauty with other people,” she says. Jackson is now sharing that perspective through the YAP: Focus …

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Scientific ‘Salvage’ Project Advances Understanding of AML

SMALL_Drs. Richard Stone, Donna Neuberg, Coleman Lindsley, and Ben Ebert in lab.

It looked like a scientific dead end – a clinical trial that found no benefit to a potential drug for a form of leukemia. But, like police detectives working a cold case, Dana-Farber scientists gathered hundreds of tissue samples that had been collected for the study – most of them languishing in laboratory cabinets, destined for disposal – and analyzed their molecular makeup. The result was discovery of a distinct genetic subtype of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that often has a worse prognosis than other forms but is rich in targets for new “smart” drugs. The research, published in the …

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How to Manage Health Insurance When You Have Cancer

Clipboard, paper and pen. Stock shot.

Learning you have cancer means you’ll want to work with a medical team that can help you create the best possible treatment plan. But it also means you need to understand your health insurance coverage. Like any complex health condition, treating cancer can involve many different types of care, and you’ll want to be sure your providers and treatments will be covered. Start by calling your insurance company. The level of coverage for exams and other medical procedures will vary depending on your specific health plan. Dial the customer service number on the back of your health insurance card and …

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Five Things You Should Know About Precision Medicine

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When President Barack Obama rolled out his Precision Medicine Initiative, it included an increased funding request of $215 million in the 2016 federal budget. Precision medicine is changing the way cancer is studied and treated. Here are five important things to know about it. 1. Precision medicine can improve diagnosis and treatment  Physicians have long recognized that the same disease can behave differently from one patient to another, and that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Precision cancer medicine makes diagnosis of cancer and other diseases more accurate, and evaluates the specific genetic makeup of patients (and, in cancer, of their …

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New Treatment Option for Patients with Rare Blood Cancer

Steven Treon, MD, PhD

It’s commonly thought that targeted therapy for cancer requires the development of separate drugs for each type and subtype of cancer. The recent approval of the drug ibrutinib (Imbruvica®), however, for Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia (a rare form of lymphoma) shows the opposite to be true: a single agent can be effective against multiple types of cancers, providing they spring from the same molecular mechanism. Last month, Waldenström’s became the fourth cancer for which ibrutinib has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 2013 and 2014 the drug was successively approved for patients with mantle cell lymphoma who have …

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From Infusion to the Aisle: A Bride Plans Her Wedding During Cancer Treatment

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By Kiara Kharpertian The fall season is sort of strange for me. Over the past few years, a number of important things happened during this season. In early October 2010, I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer at the age of 25. Though I was rediagnosed stage IV in March 2013, by October 2013, exactly three years to the day that I found that original lump, my scans came back clean – no evidence of disease. But six weeks later, in November 2013, an MRI revealed about a dozen small, scattered brain tumors. Fast forward another year: October 3, …

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Marathon Motorcyclists Roll for Dana-Farber

Bikes Fred in Lucky Hat

Like many Dana-Farber Cancer Institute supporters, Fred Georgoulis walked 26.2 miles on Sunday in the Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai. It was Georgoulis’ second trip in recent months down this course; his last was on a classic Harley Davidson FXRS. Georgoulis is the creator and director of the Boston Motorcycle Marathon Ride, one of the Jimmy Fund’s newest events. For the past two summers, on the second Sunday in August, he and more than 1,000 other motorcycle enthusiasts have ridden the legendary Hopkinton-to-Copley Square route of the Boston Marathon® , raising money for research and patient care at Dana-Farber …

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Dentist Brings a Smile to Transplant Patients

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Like many family members of cancer patients, Stephen Matarazzo, DMD, wanted a meaningful way to thank the Dana-Farber caregivers who saved his son Michael’s life. What he came up with involved offering his own professional expertise to protect the smiles of others. A dentist based in Quincy, Mass., Matarazzo provides pro bono dental exams and services to cancer and benign hematology patients who, like his son did, need stem cell transplants. Dental visits are critical transplants suppress the immune system, and patients are at significant risk for developing infections – in some cases life-threatening ones. The oral cavity and teeth …

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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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