Every year, hundreds of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students study cancer research at Dana-Farber under some of the world’s leading scientists. The Dana-Farber Postdoc and Graduate Student Affairs Office recently named the first recipient of its Mentor-of-the-Year Award: William Hahn, MD, PhD, the Institute’s deputy scientific officer and director of its Center for Cancer Genome Discovery. Here, Hahn discusses the lessons he learned from his own mentors and his efforts to instill the same principles in his own trainees.
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 foremost, I tried to keep him positive and make him as comfortable as possible. I brought him the food he liked, watched movies with him, and stayed up late talking with him when he was sad and discouraged. I also tried to bring humor to his day because, as everyone knows, laughter is powerful medicine. I spent as much time with him as I could, depending on his needs and those of his family, and made sure to plan things for the future that he could look forward to. I reassured his wife that I would do anything to help her so his most important source of strength and comfort felt supported, too. And, so he would feel as informed as possible, I researched other patients in similar positions with the same cancer, and shared what I learned about their experiences.
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.
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. Read more
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.
Most people seek opinions from experts when it comes to important matters, such as finances, children’s education, or a major purchase.
Why not do so when it comes to your cancer treatment? Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
Whenever I’ve met people with cancer, I’ve been at a loss for what to say and which questions to ask.
Now, as a cancer patient, I realize the irony. Read more
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.