September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. We asked Lisa Diller, MD, chief medical officer at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, to answer these important questions. What signs might lead a child’s pediatrician to suspect cancer? Cancer is very diverse, and diagnosis is further complicated because many signs and symptoms—like fever, bruising and headaches—are normal in healthy children.
Jack Robinson is a special kid. Diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 11, he tackled treatment if not with a smile on his face, then with a joke on his lips… or more accurately, on paper. The Massachusetts resident compiled and edited a joke book called, “Make ‘em Laugh” to help himself, and other kids who were sick. It was drafted from hundreds of jokes, riddles, and drawings submitted by Robinson and other kids cared for in the Jimmy Fund Clinic and the inpatient oncology floors at Boston Children’s Hospital.
By Saul Wisnia Rayquan “Ray” Fregeau’s smile lights up a room, even after five days of chemotherapy. His upbeat personality infuses his poetry, but until recently the 17-year-old patient at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center had trouble putting into words what he’s gone through since his February cancer diagnosis, especially when it came to telling friends about his experience.
By Melanie Graham During a child’s cancer therapy and recovery process, insomnia can often be viewed as only a side effect in the scope of treatment-related symptoms. However, there are many physical and psychological implications that develop when a child does not sleep well, says Eric Zhou, PhD, a clinical psychology fellow in Dana-Farber’s David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic. Zhou, who is also a research fellow at Harvard Medical School, has spent the last year studying treatments for insomnia in adolescent and young adult cancer survivors through Dana-Farber’s Swim Across America Fellowship.
by Naomi Funkhouser April 2011 was an auspicious month for Hilary Hall. The start of spring marked 15 years of her being cancer-free, as well as the anniversary of her bone marrow transplant in April 1996 at age 12 for acute myelogenous leukemia. It also marked the first time Hall would lace up her running shoes for the Boston Marathon. “When I heard about the marathon in October 2010, I instantly knew that this was how I would celebrate,” she says.
by Saul Wisnia Like many New Englanders, Fernando Morales can’t wait for Opening Day and the start of the baseball season. And, even if his favorite Boston Red Sox aren’t doing well, this 18-year-old high school senior from Norwood, Mass., says he’ll never waver in his devotion. He has good reason for his loyalty. As a patient at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund Clinic since April 2011, Morales has endured chemotherapy, shots, hair loss, and more for treatment of Ewing sarcoma, a tumor of the bone and soft tissue. He’s had to quit playing soccer and running track, but he’s …