Walking to Give ‘Hope for Nicholas’

childhood cancer, jimmy fund walk

Before Nicholas Cleary was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma, his mother, Lisa, and aunt, Nicole, often talked about participating in the Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai and had contributed to other Walk teams in the past. So when Nicholas was diagnosed at 22-months old, Nicole and Lisa knew right away they would start a team. “I’ve always supported organizations like the Jimmy Fund,” says Nicole. “But it has a totally different meaning when you are experiencing cancer first-hand.” A first-year team, “Hope for Nicholas” has raised a significant amount of money and recruited 34 team members. The …

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What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Childhood Cancer?


Childhood cancers are very rare; in fact, they make up less than 1 percent of all cancers diagnosed annually. Therefore, there are not any regular screening tests, unless a child has an increased risk due to genetic predisposition. As September marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we’re taking a look at some of the common symptoms, and when parents should seek advice from a doctor. The symptoms of childhood cancer can be difficult to recognize because they often mimic those of typical childhood illnesses, such as the common cold. “Parents should only be concerned when symptoms persist, when they are getting …

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How to Help Your Child Stay in School During Cancer Treatment


For kindergartners through teenagers, it’s back-to-school time. And while this annual rite of passage is often met with groans, for children undergoing cancer treatment, this can be a welcome change – provided you properly prepare. “School serves as a normalizing experience for kids with cancer, because it’s what their peer group is doing,” says Lisa Northman, PhD, a staff psychologist in the School Liaison Program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “It’s important for them to know that even in the midst of their treatment, there is a life available to them outside the hospital. They should participate …

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Childhood Cancer and the Promise of Gene Therapy

gene therapy

At its most basic level, gene therapy is a powerful technique for correcting mistakes (called mutations) in DNA of human cells. Lately, the therapy has been gaining traction as a potentially life-saving treatment for children with an array of inherited rare blood and immune disorders, as well as certain cancers. Gene therapies are being carefully tested in clinical trials, using improved, safer DNA delivery methods to reduce the risk of complications: some patients in earlier trials developed leukemia when treated with previous “vectors” – engineered viruses that transfer copies of normally functioning genes into cells of ill patients.  So far, …

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Progress in the Treatment of Childhood Leukemia

Kimberly Stegmaier

Although treatments for childhood cancer patients are improving, cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease in children. Doctors and researchers are also focused on decreasing the toxicity of these treatments, which can have side effects years after a child finishes treatment. “The war against childhood cancer is hardly over,” says Kimberly Stegmaier, MD, a pediatric oncologist at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “We need to do better.” Stegmaier, who focuses her research on identifying new drug targets and new drugs for leukemia, Ewing sarcoma, and neuroblastoma, recently discussed advances in childhood cancer treatment in a Science, Innovation, …

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What Is AT/RT Cancer?


An atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor (AT/RT) is a very rare and fast-growing tumor of the central nervous system. AT/RT is part of a larger group of malignant tumors called rhabdoid tumors, which are found outside the brain, in the kidneys, liver and other locations. AT/RT is most commonly found in the cerebellum and brain stem, which control most of the body’s basic functions. Since AT/RT grows very rapidly, symptoms can develop quickly over days or weeks. Increased head size often occurs in infants due to swelling inside the brain. Other common symptoms of AT/RT include headaches, especially upon waking in the …

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You Are Not Alone: Supporting Siblings of Childhood Cancer Patients

When Phoebe Clark was 14-months old, she had little knowledge of what was happening to her brother, Harry. The 5-year-old had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and was undergoing multiple surgeries and radiation therapy at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. But a few years later, when Phoebe was 5-years old, her brother suffered a brain bleed and was back in the hospital. Suddenly, the hospital and the Jimmy Fund Clinic were not only at the center of Harry’s world, they were a major part of Phoebe’s life, too. “You really started to see the impact of what …

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Solving Puzzles with Cigall Kadoch


Growing up in the San Francisco area, Cigall Kadoch, PhD, had a passion for puzzles. The daughter of a Moroccan-born, Israeli-raised father and a mother from Michigan who together developed an interior design business, Kadoch excelled in school and pretty much everything else. Above all, she loved to solve brain-teasers. In high school, however, Kadoch came up against a problem that defied solution. Breast cancer took the life of a beloved family caretaker who had nurtured her interests in science and nature. “I was deeply saddened and very frustrated at my lack of understanding of what had happened,” recalls Kadoch, …

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Isolation Patients Bond During Treatment

Isolation patients Shannon and Zack bond during treatment

This post originally appeared on the Jimmy Fund blog. By Erica Equi “People would say ‘I feel bad for her’…I’m the same person I ever was, but better, stronger,” says 14-year-old Shannon Curley, reflecting on the time she spent in isolation treatment at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve met so many amazing people and learned some important things.” In December 2012, Shannon, a middle school basketball star and Billerica native, was diagnosed with acute bilineal leukemia. Due to the rarity and nature of her leukemia, doctors recommended an aggressive treatment plan. After three …

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What’s New in Pediatric Brain Tumor Treatment?

Mark Kieran, MD, PhD

As one of the most difficult cancers to treat, childhood brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children under age 10. However, researchers are making more progress than ever before. “Over the last 10 years there has been a lot of excitement about new treatments for pediatric brain tumors,” says Peter Manley, MD, a pediatric neuro-oncologist with Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and director of the Stop & Shop Family Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Outcomes Clinic. “We’re looking at brain tumors on a molecular level to find potential targeted therapies that can not only treat the cancer, …

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