7 Tips to Remember When Visiting Cancer Patients

When we are sick, the kindness of others carries us through. Visits from those we love provide comfort, a hand to hold. But for Cindy Hale, healing meant limiting contact with family and friends. Hale underwent an allogeneic stem cell transplant at Dana-Farber in 2002, leaving her immunocompromised – with a weakened immune system. Cancer patients in general are at risk for acquiring infection as a result of their underlying disease or from chemotherapy. This is why it is so important for patients, visitors, and staff to take an active role in infection prevention, according to Susan O’Rourke, RN, of …

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Summer brings greater need for blood, platelet donations

One of the easiest and most effective ways to help cancer patients is to give blood. There is a constant need for donations, but especially so in the summer when people are on vacation and unable to donate. One pint of blood can save up to two lives, and one platelet donation can save up to three.

How to grill safely this weekend

There’s no better time to barbecue with family and friends than the summer, but grilling meat creates chemicals that may be linked to cancer. Research has shown that high-heat grilling can convert proteins in red meat, pork, poultry, and fish into heterocyclic amines (HCAs), chemicals that have been connected to a number of cancers. Another cancer-causing agent, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), is found in the smoke. PAHs form when fat and juices from meat products drip on the heat source, causing smoke to form and stick to the surface of the meat as it rises.

Doctor/patient team fight rare cancer

By Karen Lee Sobol I recently learned that the word “patient” shares a Latin root with the word “compassion.” Any one of us can become a patient, for a number of reasons. For me, hearing a diagnosis of Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia flipped a switch. I became a patient in a big way.

Can aspirin prevent or treat cancer?

Aspirin has been around for over 100 years. In the last 50 years, research has shown that regular use of aspirin may prevent heart disease. Now a new study points to aspirin’s effectiveness in preventing and treating cancer. A recent University of Oxford investigation pooled more than 50 studies to show that regular aspirin use could reduce your chances of developing certain types of cancer, and may be effective in treating some cancers as well. We talked to Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber for his take on the recent research.

Reclaiming sexuality after cancer

If you’re diagnosed with cancer, you’ll probably get used to people asking about your health. And whether you’re fielding the concerns of well-meaning friends and family or the professional interests of your care team, you’ll gradually learn what responses to give. But many cancer patients and survivors choose to keep part of their journey private – especially if they have sexual health issues related to treatment.

Dating again – Tips for cancer survivors

For anyone who’s been out of circulation for a while, re-entering the world of dating can be awkward. It’s extra-challenging for cancer survivors. “Concerns about when to disclose health status, and the feeling that they don’t know how to deal with these questions, make dating relationships more difficult for cancer survivors,” says Karen Fasciano, PsyD., a clinical psychologist and director of the Young Adult Program at Dana-Farber.

Opening of cancer center in Rwanda is “privilege beyond words”

The dirt roads in northern Rwanda now lead to a cancer center where patients can receive care for a disease that was, until now, considered a death sentence there. The Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, which was dedicated on July 18, has allowed Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center to extend a helping hand in this tiny, densely populated country in Africa.

How a healing environment helps

As recently as a decade ago, a visit to the hospital sometimes meant entering meant entering a cold, synthetic setting. But the tide is changing. A growing body of research indicates that creating what’s commonly called a “healing environment” – with features such as calming music, garden areas, artwork, and access to natural light – can lead to better patient outcomes.

How to protect children from the sun

Applying sunscreen to wiggly young children can be a challenge, but sun protection is especially critical for young skin. Babies and young children are especially sensitive to the sun. There are several lines of evidence indicating that burns during youth significantly contribute to melanoma risk. For instance, just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles an individual’s risk of developing melanoma later in life. In a three-year study of fifth graders, the percentage of children who “often or always” used sunscreen declined from 50 to 25 percent.