When It Comes to Cancer, Everyone Can Help

By Jim Donovan In 2002 my good friend died of cancer. He and I were at MIT together as undergraduates, where we shared a lot of great memories and developed a long-lasting friendship. Like most of us who walk with a loved one through a life-threatening disease, I experienced feelings of anger, sadness, and fear. I don’t have a medical background, and honestly didn’t understand some of the terminology that doctors used during the diagnosis and the treatment. This made me feel helpless. But I wanted to help.  So I discovered other ways I could support my friend. First and …

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Seven Tips for Life After Stem Cell Transplant

By Maria Pearson As a technology teacher who had a long career with IBM before going into education, I have encountered all sorts of opportunities to teach – and to learn. The biggest such opportunity of my life occurred at the intersection of cancer, technology, and Dana-Farber. In August 2010, I was diagnosed with stage III multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. No search engine was adequate in comforting my fears of life expectancy, treatment, or facing a stark life-altering challenge.

Do BRCA Mutations Increase a Woman’s Lifetime Cancer Risk?

By Judy Garber, MD, MPH We know that women who inherit harmful mutations in the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2 have a sharply increased risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer at an early age (prior to menopause). In fact, women with inherited BRCA1 or 2 mutations are about five times more likely to develop breast cancer – and at least 10 times more likely to develop ovarian cancer – than women without such mutations, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Driving a Blood Mobile is Hard. Donating Blood is Easy

SMALL_Bloodmobile at Copley Square.

The next time you’re ready to curse the narrow, cobblestoned streets of Boston while driving, imagine being Andre Seale. Starting next month, he’ll be navigating them in a 42-foot-long vehicle with the most precious of all resources aboard: donated blood. Seale will be behind the wheel of the new Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham and Women’s Hospital Blood Mobile, which will expand the organizations’ ability to conduct blood drives throughout the greater Boston area. “Now we can have a blood drive anywhere that has a wide enough area for us to park in,” explains Seale. “I also won’t need to lug around …

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The Power of Listening to Cancer Patients

By Melissa Cochran, MS, NP For my cancer patients, a stem cell transplant is a life-changing event. They cannot work outside the home for a full year; visits to Dana-Farber are about the only excursions allowed. No more trips to the grocery store or dinners at a favorite restaurant. In our clinic, we have a solid team in place – physicians, nurses, social workers, and nurse practitioners like myself – working together to support and anticipate each cancer patient’s needs along the way. As you can imagine, significant physical and emotional issues can arise for our patients.

Can Men Get Breast Cancer?

 Pink may be the color for breast cancer advocacy, but that doesn’t mean men can’t be diagnosed with the disease. Each year, 2,000 men in the U.S. receive a breast cancer diagnosis. Current treatments are highly effective in men whose cancer is treated early. However, because men aren’t familiar with breast cancer symptoms, diagnosis is often delayed.

What is a Benign Tumor? What is a Malignant Tumor?

A tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue that has formed a lump. It’s called benign if it grows slowly and is self-limiting; that is, if it doesn’t have the capacity to invade nearby tissues and spread beyond its original site. A malignant, or cancerous, tumor, on the other hand, is innately dangerous because its cells can divide uncontrollably and produce virtually immortal daughter cells. Malignant tumor cells can penetrate and destroy adjacent tissue, and can metastasize, or travel through the circulation to distant parts of the body and form new tumors.

Mental Fog, Chemotherapy Side Effect, Is Real and Often Treatable

Not long ago, doctors were often skeptical when cancer patients who had undergone chemotherapy complained that they were mentally foggy; unable to plan a week’s worth of meals or organize their finances as they could before. Patients called this side effect “chemobrain” and were frustrated by the lack of recognition – or suggested remedies – from their physicians.