Advice from Mother and Son on Facing Cancer Together

Perry family

Hearing the words “you have cancer” can be hard enough, but what is it like to hear them echoed for a loved one? Having two cancer patients in one family calls for extra strength from everyone involved. Karen Perry was undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer when she and her husband Brian learned that their son Owen, then 11, had leukemia. He was hospitalized for five months at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “My knees buckled when I heard the news,” recalls Perry. “Learning Owen had cancer was harder than learning I had it.” The Perrys offer the following …

Continue reading

Patient and Doctor Come Full Circle

WalenskyandFranklin2SMALL

Kate Franklin was 3½-years old in August 2000, when her mother brought her to the Boston Children’s Hospital emergency room because she was bruising easily and couldn’t seem to shake a strep throat. Loren Walensky, MD, PhD, had just started his fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology in July, and that night Kate Franklin became one of the first patients he diagnosed with cancer. When Walensky told Emily Franklin that her daughter had leukemia, the mother placed her hands on the doctor’s shoulders, and, in a moment that Walensky says he will never forget, she said, “I will see you at her …

Continue reading

Mother and Son, Both Cancer Survivors, Share Their Story on Radio-Telethon

SAM_1237_150square

When Lisa Robert is interviewed at Fenway Park  for the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon presented by Arbella Insurance Foundation (Aug 19-20), her mind will no doubt drift back to 1976, when she was a 7-year-old leukemia patient at Dana-Farber and had the thrill of her life. She threw out the first pitch of the season at Fenway to Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk. Lisa won’t be the only member of her family reminiscing on air about pediatric cancer. Her son, Josh Robert, now 17, was treated at Dana-Farber in 2009 for Burkitt’s lymphoma. Two generations of Jimmy Fund Clinic …

Continue reading

Documenting Illness: Images of Hope

DSC_50317SMALL

In the midst of a serious illness, there are glimpses of a childhood intact: painting a ceramic ladybug, reading “Froggy Learns to Swim” before bed with siblings Drew, 10, Meghan, 8, and Daniel, 2, and joining friends in the outfield for a summer staple – a baseball game. These are the ordinary moments in 7-year-old Riley Fessenden’s life, captured by Abby Archer, a photography major and recent graduate of Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. These slow summer days are a gift, a reprieve from the rigors of treatment for Riley, who was diagnosed in May 2013 with esthesioneuroblastoma, a rare …

Continue reading

What to Do if Your Child Relapses

Deanna and Tatyana AbramsSMALL

Relapse is a word any cancer patient dreads, but for parents of children with cancer, fear of the cancer coming back can be acute. Yet, “a cure is possible for many patients whose cancer returns,” says Barbara Degar, MD.  “We approach the second experience with the same rigor we brought the first time, and come up with the best strategy to achieve a second remission.” About 15-20 percent of children with acute lymphoblastic  leukemia (ALL) will relapse, 40 percent of children with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), and 50 percent of children with neuroblastoma. In some cases, treatment the second time …

Continue reading

Salvadoran Doctor Sets Sights on Changing Pediatric Oncology in Her Country

SOG_1264_13SMALL

By Dr. Soad Fuentes Alabi Soad Fuentes Alabi, MD, visited Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center as part of the Global Health Initiative. She shares her experience with Insight readers. In El Salvador, where I come from, in a population of more than 5 million, there are almost 1.1 million children ages 1-14. For all of those children, there is only one pediatric hospital. As a doctor who specializes in pediatric oncology, I was thrilled when I got the chance to come to America. Through the St. Baldrick’s International Scholar Award, I had the opportunity to come to the U.S. …

Continue reading

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh ‘Proud to be a Cancer Survivor’

SOG_2120_14

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh recently gave the keynote address at Dana-Farber’s Living Proof: Celebrating Survivorship event. He shared his experience as a child being treated for Burkitt’s lymphoma at Dana-Farber and Boston Children’s Hospital. Below are some excerpts from his speech:  I was diagnosed with cancer at age 7. I went through treatment for almost four years. At 7-years old, I didn’t really know what was going on and how serious it was – and it was pretty serious. For many years I missed a lot of school. I missed most of my second and third grades. When I finally went into remission, …

Continue reading

Young Adult Artist and Athlete Determined to Win the Fight Against Cancer

SOG_0009_14SMALL

The below interview with patient Fernando Morales was featured in the 2014 Spring/Summer issue of Dana-Farber’s Paths of Progress, now available as a free app for iPad.  My cancer diagnosis came right smack in the middle of high school. I was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in March 2011, my sophomore year. I had to give up sports and stop going to school while I did 14 rounds of chemotherapy and 31 rounds of radiation. I promised myself I would fight through it. And I didn’t let myself get down when I lost my ability to play soccer. I relapsed in October 2012 …

Continue reading

As Pediatric Cancer Survivors, Mother and Daughter Share Unique Bond

SOG_1740_14SMALL

  Jessica Tierney never thought she’d experience a harder moment than learning she had cancer at age 15 – until her 7-year-old daughter, Emma, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) last October. Emma is undergoing treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic, just as Jessica did in 1991. “Emma already knew I had once been really sick, so I told her, ‘Look at me. I was treated a long time ago, and the medicine is even better now,” Jessica Tierney recalls of hearing her daughter’s diagnosis. Jessica is a survivor of acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, …

Continue reading

At Dana-Farber, Every Beam Tells a Story of Growth — and Survival

When Dana-Farber Cancer Institute was founded as the Children’s Cancer Research Foundation in 1947, childhood cancer was almost universally fatal. In the years since, as Dana-Farber’s researchers and clinicians have helped dramatically raise survival rates for many pediatric and adult cancers, its campus in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area has grown as well. Patients are the motivation for each new building that rises at Dana-Farber, and in the case of two recent structures, are even immortalized within – thanks to special bonds formed during their construction. After years of working first in a tiny basement laboratory and then in an apartment …

Continue reading