Young Adults Share Their Cancer Journeys Through Photos

Nature's Scars

When Jenn Jackson, a trained physician, was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma in 2011 and found out she could no longer practice medicine, the news was devastating. “Getting this cancer diagnosis changed the whole trajectory of my life,” says Jackson, who was diagnosed at 35, after completing 10 years of medical training. But, craving a greater sense of purpose, Jackson soon found a new career: photography. “Now that I have cancer, I pay more attention to things that I see, and I wanted to share that beauty with other people,” she says. Jackson is now sharing that perspective through the YAP: Focus …

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Rhythm Therapy: How Drum Circles Help Patients Cope with Cancer

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Zeynep Aytekin, a 47-year-old management consultant, has always wanted to participate in a drum and rhythm class. Now, as a breast cancer patient at Dana-Farber, she has the opportunity to let loose her inner percussionist. After some encouragement from a friend, whom she met at the Gentle Hatha Yoga, Aytekin joined the drum circle group offered through Dana-Farber’s Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies. The drum circle, Aytekin says, is a great way to spend her free time while she is away from her home in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and receiving radiation treatment in Boston. “It has made me …

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ABC’s Dan Harris Shares His Journey to Mindfulness

ABC's Dan Harris

Mindfulness meditation is a simple, effective technique for relieving stress and focusing on the present, whether you’re a current cancer patient, a longtime survivor, or even “a fidgety news man.” This was the message delivered by Dan Harris, correspondent and co-anchor for ABC’s “Nightline” and “Good Morning America Weekend,” during the keynote speech at the 13th annual Lenny Lecture sponsored by Dana-Farber’s Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, Adult Survivorship Program, and Perini Family Survivors’ Center. His talk centered on the powerful story of how he used 5-10 minutes of daily meditation to reduce the anxiety he felt in …

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How Integrative Therapies Can Help Lung Cancer Patients

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Any cancer diagnosis and treatment can take a physical and emotional toll on patient. For many lung cancer patients, post-operative pain and muscle tension, as well as breathing and sleeping issues, are common side effects. To help ease some of these symptoms, patients can seek out integrative therapies, which can be used in conjunction with standard treatment. “Patients who participate in integrative therapies may experience fewer side effects of treatment and therefore, have a better quality of life,” says Bambi Mathay, MD, LMT, oncology massage therapist and reiki master practitioner at Dana-Farber’s Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies. Lung cancer …

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Survivor Uses Reiki and ‘Button Therapy’ to Help Others Facing Cancer

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As a girl, Paula Kaufman loved playing with the buttons that her grandmother, a seamstress, had in abundance. Later, while in treatment for stage III colorectal cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Kaufman – then a mother of three in her late 30s – gained strength from a jar of buttons her grandmother bequeathed to her. “When you have cancer, you feel like you’re hanging by a thread,” Kaufman explains. “The connections you make with other people are the buttons that pull you through.” Kaufman’s caregivers, family, and friends served as her buttons, and she drew further comfort from Reiki, a …

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How Reiki and Qigong Can Help Cancer Patients

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Cancer therapy can take a toll on one’s body and mind. Thankfully, there are a variety of integrative therapies that, together with traditional medicine, can help patients feel better during treatment. Through the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, Dana-Farber offers therapies such as acupuncture, massage, meditation, yoga, and creative arts and music therapy, as well as lesser-known practices, including reiki and qigong. What is Reiki? Reiki involves allowing the universal life energy believed to surround and inhabit the body to help ease anxiety and promote relaxation. During reiki sessions, master practitioners gently place their hands on or above …

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Coping With Cancer Through Creative Expression

A cancer diagnosis brings more than physical challenges. Patients and loved ones must also manage the emotional toll that can come with it. Storytelling, through word, pictures or other creative expression, can be an effective way to deal with these emotions and help with the healing process. Some people look to painting or writing, while others may cope through dance, music, or a tattoo. We want you to share your story with us. Whether it’s a piece of artwork, a blog post, or a small tattoo on your wrist – show us how you coped with a cancer diagnosis. Submit …

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Web Chat: How Integrative Therapies Can Benefit Cancer Patients

Whether it’s yoga, meditation, massage, or nutrition counseling, integrative therapies can offer a wide range of benefits for patients. “The whole concept of integrative therapies is about improving the overall quality of life for cancer patients,” says David Rosenthal, MD, medical director of Dana-Farber’s Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies. “Integrative and complementary therapies are helpful in all stages of diagnosis, from pre-cancer to survivorship.”

Dancing for Hope, Friendship and a Cure

By Shannon Watterson If you asked a young Susan Mendoza Friedman where she saw her life going, she would not have said fundraising for cancer research and patient care. But, when the dance studio owner and early childhood expert’s best friend of 40 years, Karen Schek, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November 2005, that’s exactly what happened.