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

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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

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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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Do Childhood Cancer Survivors Have a Higher Risk of Developing Cancer Later in Life?

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During cancer treatment, patients are often focused on just one thing: getting healthy. But for survivors, particularly of childhood cancer, it’s also important to learn about staying healthy after treatment, including prevention of new cancers that may occur later in life. We spoke with Lynda Vrooman, MD, associate medical director of the David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center: Do childhood cancer survivors have an increased risk for developing a second cancer later in life (not just a recurrence)?  There are many factors that need to be taken into account when …

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A Better Way to Care for Seriously Ill Children and Their Families

Joanne Wolfe, MD, MPH

This post originally appeared on WBUR’s Cognoscenti blog.  By Joanne Wolfe, MD, MPH How is it that, in this day and age, a talented teenager treated for lymphoma emerges cured but with a life-threatening eating disorder? How is it that, in our nation’s capital, a boy dying at home from neuroblastoma experiences excruciating pain in his final moments? How is that, when we develop new drugs to treat children with cancer, we do not, at the same time, routinely and in a standardized manner ask them how they are feeling? As a pediatric oncologist and palliative care physician, I was alarmed by stories like …

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Childhood Cancer Patients Mark Hospital Departure with Bubbles

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Avery McAvoy’s last day in the hospital was a long-awaited milestone, but all the 2-year-old cared about was how it ended: with bubbles. After 12 months of treatment for neuroblastoma at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, much of which was spent on the inpatient oncology and hematology unit at Boston Children’s Hospital, Avery participated on a Friday afternoon last month in what has become a beloved discharge ritual for clinical staff and patient families. Lining both sides of the corridor outside her room, nurses and other caregivers cheered and blew bubbles as Avery and her parents walked past …

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Can Kids Get Melanoma? What Parents Need to Know

Yawkey Center for Cancer Care healing garden.

Although melanoma is more commonly found in adults, childhood and adolescent melanoma affects approximately 300 children in the U.S. each year. Thankfully, the incidence rate has started to decrease in recent years. While melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer in adults, skin cancer in children is almost always melanoma. The biggest increase in melanoma incidences has been in girls ages 15-19, possibly because girls are more likely than boys to sunbathe and use tanning beds. Because melanoma often appears differently in children than in adults, doctors and parents sometimes overlook it or misdiagnose it as a different skin …

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What Are the Differences Between Adult and Childhood Brain Tumors?

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Brain tumors are relatively rare for people of any age, but they can occur in both children and adults. In fact, tumors of the spinal cord and brain are the second most common types of cancer in children, after leukemia. But there are some key differences between brain tumors that occur in adults and those in children. “Compared to adults, children are more likely to develop tumors in the lower parts of the brain – the brain stem and cerebellum – which are areas that affect movement and coordination,” says Mark Kieran, MD, PhD, director of Pediatric Medical Neuro-Oncology at …

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Young Patients’ Artwork Shows Creativity and Courage

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The artist Henri Matisse once said, “creativity takes courage.” So does facing cancer as a child. Cancer, creativity and courage merged at a recent exhibit of art by patients of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. The artwork was created during the FACES (Feeling Accepted, Confident, Empowered and Strong) and FLASHES (Filming Life and Sharing Hope, Encouragement and Strength) support groups, which provide Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s patients with socialization, discussion and expression through art. Here is a sampling of the patients’ work and what they say about it: Cassandra Crowley, 20, of Arlington, Massachusetts Lymphoma, stem cell transplant Paintings “I wanted …

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