For Anna Heard, the fall of 2002 was a season of change. Set to move to Boston in September to begin a master’s program at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Heard, then 29, had a routine physical in Washington, D.C., before starting the academic year. Although her […]
By Tara Baysol I was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013 at the age of 27. Just prior to my diagnosis, I had started a new, exciting chapter as a Yale graduate student. My self-confidence was at an all-time high as I had survived my chaotic early 20s and was […]
By Kathleen Barton When you get diagnosed with cancer, it kicks your butt – both the physical aspects of chemo and the general inertia that comes with this new thing you’re living with. Before my diagnosis, I was active – working, volunteering, exercising, and spending time with friends. Then some […]
“What should I bring with me to chemo?” It’s a common question. For many cancer patients, the answer is books, puzzles, or a good movie. For Monica Wright, it was her “chemobuddies.” Wright, 44, was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2015, and quickly found how comforting a friend’s presence […]
Tara Shuman didn’t necessarily set out to be a blogger, let alone a book author. Yet in the throes of a cancer diagnosis she turned to writing as an outlet. Abby Morgan also turned to blogging. A painter since an early age, and an art teacher, writing carried less pressure […]
Five hundred miles from her hometown in northern Virginia, newlywed Jeannie Choi, 30, and her husband were settling into to Massachusetts and their new careers in July 2015. Just three months later, their wedding vows – to support each other in sickness and in health – would be put to […]
Oral problems such as mouth sores, dry mouth, jaw pain, and sensitive gums are a common complaint for cancer patients, because the very treatments that target fast-growing cancer cells can also affect healthy cells in the mouth. Treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy may cause mouth sores and dry mouth, […]
Parents face many unique challenges when diagnosed with cancer. Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles is learning how to communicate with children about this difficult and emotional subject. “It’s important children can feel there’s open communication and they can ask questions,” says Kelly (Drummond) Giles, LICSW, a Dana-Farber social […]
For otherwise healthy individuals, a CT scan or an MRI is an uncommon event. But for cancer survivors like Jeremy Pivor, it’s a routine part of life. So too is the anxiety that often accompanies each test – often referred to as “scanxiety.” Diagnosed with a brain tumor at age […]
No one wants to give their kids bad news, and it’s hard to imagine worse than telling your kids you have cancer. For lymphoma survivors Gina Johnson and Connie Grayson, the challenge was greater, because they not only had their own kids to tell, but as teachers, they also had […]
From telling children about a diagnosis to juggling school and sports schedules with treatment, parents face many unique emotional and logistical challenges when diagnosed with cancer. Sarah Silvia, a single mom treated at Dana-Farber for lymphoma, recently shared her experience during a live Dana-Farber webchat with Dana-Farber social workers Allison […]
Gina Johnson and Connie Grayson have a combined 53 years teaching in the public school system. Last year, however, their cancer diagnoses prompted them to incorporate a new element into their lesson plans. “When I was diagnosed with lymphoma in September 2014, one of my student’s moms had just passed […]
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may cause changes to your skin during and after cancer treatment. Follow these tips and check in with your doctor regularly to ensure your skin is in the healthiest condition possible throughout your cancer experience. Chemotherapy Dry skin is a common side effect of chemotherapy. If […]
The language used to talk about cancer often focuses on battle words – those who are cured “won” or “survived,” while those who die from cancer “lost” their “fight.” But is cancer really something to be won or lost? Young adults with cancer discussed these phrases and others during the […]
Cancer survivors of all ages sometimes face psychological, social, or physical side effects that are long-lasting or develop later in life. With the number of survivors reaching 12 million in the U.S. today, the need for survivorship care and education is growing. “Survivorship care is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Just […]
Cancer comes with significant stress and anxiety for patients and their loved ones, which can make managing treatment even more difficult. Recently, Karen Fasciano, PsyD, clinical psychiatrist at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, joined four patients to discuss their experiences. “Often when we tell ourselves we can’t feel anxious, the […]
Sarah Boczanowski was tired. Her turbulent relationship with sleep, dating back to her childhood, had only worsened since her leukemia diagnosis at age 18. Through biopsies and chemotherapy, she found sleep elusive. “With nurses and doctors coming in and out, and beeping noises from my IVs, it was impossible to […]
Learning you have cancer means you’ll want to work with a medical team that can help you create the best possible treatment plan. But it also means you need to understand your health insurance coverage. Like any complex health condition, treating cancer can involve many different types of care, and […]
As 2014 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite videos from the last year: Tom Brokaw: What it Means to Have Cancer NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August 2013, stopped by Dana-Farber in November. We […]
The holidays are a time for celebrating with family and friends, but the season can bring challenges for cancer patients and those who have recently completed treatment. The stresses of cancer may leave them feeling out of touch or overburdened with traditional holiday responsibilities. If someone you know is in, […]
By Ethan Hawes “Having cancer in college doesn’t seem real.” That was my first thought when I received what would become life-changing news at the age of 22 as a senior at the University of Maine (Orono). My body went numb and tears started to form when my doctor told […]
In April 2014, John Barrett, a 71-year-old Dana-Farber patient achieved a long-standing goal. He officially became a certified personal trainer. The lifelong exercise enthusiast set out to help cancer patients with their own fitness goals, and after his certification, began an internship with Nancy Campbell, MS, an exercise physiologist in […]
The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and those around you. But will cancer patients benefit from the flu shot given their immunity and treatment status? It is safe for patients who have not had a stem cell transplant to get the flu shot, and are highly […]
By E.R. Seventeen-year-old E.R. reflects on both parents’ battles with cancer. For this post, E.R. and the family wished to remain anonymous. Simply put, the role of a parent is to take on more roles. From lab coat supermodel and expert peanut-butter-and-jelly chef to personal shopper and bodyguard; parents do […]
Many associate post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, with veterans returning home from war, or those involved in similarly violent scenarios. But PTSD can occur after any life-threatening traumatic event – including a serious illness like cancer. “It’s common for cancer patients, even if they don’t have full-blown PTSD, to have […]
Everyone faces stress from time to time, but a cancer diagnosis can be particularly challenging for both the patient and the family members. “For many of our patients and survivors, they experience a great deal of stress related to their diagnosis, treatment, or fears of recurrence,” says Eric Zhou, PhD, […]
For many patients treated with chemotherapy, peripheral neuropathy can be an uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous side effect. The condition, which includes tingling or loss of sensation in the arms or legs, can increase risk for falls and fall-related injuries. To help prevent and ease these problems, Dana-Farber exercise physiologist Nancy […]
By Alex Niles Alex Niles was diagnosed with Stage IV gastric cancer in fall 2013, at age 30. He holds an undergraduate degree from Drexel University, where he was a Division 1 scholarship athlete, and a graduate degree from Fordham University. He writes about his cancer experience on his blog, […]
“Science and Society” was the theme of this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 50th annual meeting. The meeting showcased cancer research from around the world. Some new findings from Dana-Farber researchers included: Joyce Liu, MD, MPH, of the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers reported that, in […]
By Abby Morgan May 2013 was an exciting time for my husband and me. We were in the process of buying our first house and thinking about starting a family. But, when a visit to the doctor to investigate pain in my right knee revealed a large mass, our excitement […]
Young adults often have their sights set on the future, anticipating college, working at their dream job, or traveling. One place they don’t plan to be is in an infusion chair undergoing cancer treatment. Cancer disrupts everyone, but especially adults age 18-34 who are growing into adulthood and starting careers […]
By Kat Caverly In the book “Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient” Norman Cousins explains that creativity is an effective therapy. I devoured this book during one of my three-hour chemotherapy infusions of Taxol. I was filled with such hope. I knew then I would be fine. […]
It’s well known that many chemotherapy medications used to treat cancer can bring undesirable side effects, such as hair loss, lack of appetite, and fatigue. But experiencing such symptoms is not an indication of whether cancer treatment is working. Chemotherapy interferes with a cell’s ability to grow and divide, so […]
Cognitive dysfunction is a common and frustrating side effect for many patients who undergo chemotherapy. The condition – also called “chemobrain” – can create problems with memory, attention and concentration, information processing, and mental skills used for organizing and scheduling. For many years, medical professionals were skeptical that these cognitive issues were […]
By Jack Coates In May 2001, I was diagnosed with medullablastoma. I was 19 years old and had just finished my freshman year at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. Medullablastoma is a cancer that affects the brain and the spine. I had three surgeries, 52 weeks of chemo, and […]
Following radiation treatment or surgery to remove lymph nodes (lymphadenectomy), patients can develop lymphedema, a condition that involves abnormal swelling, usually in the arms or the legs, due to an accumulation of lymphatic fluids. This fluid buildup is caused by blockage or removal of lymph nodes or lymph vessels. Lymphedema […]
An analysis of data from the decades-long Nurses’ Health Study revealed that women who ate a one-ounce serving of nuts – any kind of nuts – two or more times a week had a 35 percent lower risk of pancreatic cancer than women who abstained from them. That’s a significant […]
By Julia Pettengill Our daughter Sophie was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2½, and received two years of care at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. While I felt tremendous joy and relief when she completed treatment, I also found the experience traumatic.
This Thanksgiving, as we continue to look for better ways to care for our patients today, and in the future, we also look back and give thanks to the foresight of our founder, Sidney Farber, MD.
By Christopher Lathan, MD, MS, MPH When cancer strikes someone who is already facing other hardships – for example, he or she is poor, alone, or has a language barrier – the experience is very different than it might be for someone who has more resources and support. The Cancer […]
Each year, Dana-Farber patients join clinicians, staff, and the Boston Red Sox to share their stories of inspiration and their belief in the research advances at Dana-Farber during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon at Fenway Park. This year, nearly 100 patients, including Rayquan Fregeau, who used art and resources from […]
By Catherine MacLean “Why is this coming up now?” “It’s been 10 years. I should be over this already.” “Why is this happening to me? All of the other survivors I know seem fine.” These thoughts preoccupied me during the transition from high school to college. It had been 10 […]
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 […]
Dana-Farber celebrates cancer survivorship in June with Living Proof, an annual series of events that includes workshops and programs as well as a keynote reception on June 20. The end of treatment is an important milestone for any cancer patient, but it can also be a time of anxiety. In […]
By Caroline Rider For many families with children, summer is a time for vacations, outings, and fun. However, a summer vacation when your child has cancer can seem out of the question. But sometimes, a summer getaway is just what the doctor ordered.
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 […]
Having cancer as a teen or young adult can throw your life off track. Just when you’re learning to drive, planning your prom, or playing your favorite sport, you find yourself sick, bald, and in the hospital. And you worry about your appearance – especially if you’re a girl.
by Sara Dickison Taylor You wouldn’t be able to tell just by meeting them, but high-school student Molly Callahan and Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center nurse Lindsay Roache, RN, have a few things in common: They’ve survived cancer, and they’re committed to helping others.
Today, we wanted to take a moment to share a couple of free mobile apps. Both were developed here at Dana-Farber but they have very different uses. The first app is for the iPad and it’s very simple – a year’s worth of beautiful photos showing some of the happier […]
“Stay positive, I know it helps.” “What steps would you suggest I take to support my dad through all of this?” “I am a new member of this group.” These conversations are occurring online, at any time of day, in a community most people would not want to join: A […]
By Lola Baltzell I have been a metastatic breast cancer patient at Dana-Farber for over four years now. “Metastatic” means the cancer has spread beyond the breast. I have an amazing team of providers, especially my oncologist Ann Partridge and nurse practitioner Anne Kelly.
Award-winning photographer Richard Conboy understands the value of enjoying the moment, both in his pictures and in his life. Conboy had Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a teenager, and 40 years later, he beat colon cancer with the help of the Dana-Farber.
Henry Fenollosa’s problems began before he was born, when he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. His infancy was was spent largely at Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic, where he received treatment for his disease with his family looking on. Today, Henry’s an active seven-year-old, who loves to show off his lacrosse stickhandling […]
Their last names are practically identical. They are both fathers, and their oldest sons, now 6’3, were born on the same day – just two hours apart. “Blood brothers” Craig Johnson and Henrik Janssen had much to celebrate recently.
If you’re diagnosed with cancer, you’ll probably get used to people asking about your health. And whether you’re fielding the concerns of well-meaning friends and family or the professional interests of your care team, you’ll gradually learn what responses to give. But many cancer patients and survivors choose to keep […]
For anyone who’s been out of circulation for a while, re-entering the world of dating can be awkward. It’s extra-challenging for cancer survivors. “Concerns about when to disclose health status, and the feeling that they don’t know how to deal with these questions, make dating relationships more difficult for cancer […]
Ben O’Clair was a college senior studying for finals when he first felt the twinges of pain in his side. A day later, the 21-year-old was in a hospital learning he had cancer. He left school immediately, moved back to his mother’s house in Holliston, Mass., and began arduous chemotherapy […]
If you think a cancer diagnosis automatically means you’ll need to get plenty of bed rest and avoid activity, think again. A host of medical studies show that exercise can not only reduce the chances of developing cancer, it’s also safe during and after cancer treatment, helping improve quality of […]
In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship. When I was discharged from the hospital in 1996 after undergoing a stem cell transplant to treat leukemia, I was terrified. Yes, I’d survived cancer treatment, but now I had to deal with something even scarier: the unknown. If you’ve recently […]
In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship. To look at 9-year-old baseball player and Lego champion Charlie Rider, you’d never guess he’d had cancer for nearly half his life.
In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship. When Dana-Farber launched its David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic nearly 20 years ago, it was one of the nation’s first programs dedicated to helping childhood cancer survivors. From the beginning, the pediatric survivorship clinic has been guided […]
In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship. In 2008 I discovered that my breast cancer, in remission for several years, had spread to my bones. I had just turned 50 and made a list of things I wanted to try that year: ride a helicopter, taste sake, […]
In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship. The United States today is home to an estimated 12 million cancer survivors, thanks largely to advances in cancer treatment. But the end of treatment is not the end of the cancer experience. For many cancer survivors and caregivers, the […]
“I don’t believe that optimism can cure cancer, but I do believe one’s general health around the edges can make a difference.” Sam Donaldson, ABC News contributor, learned he had melanoma in 1997. Despite his diagnosis, he opted to stay positive and learn all he could about his disease. Now chairman […]
By James Bond “How long will I live?” I asked my oncologist in Ohio in 1992, when I was 44 and diagnosed with multiple myeloma. “Three years,” he answered. Instead, I enjoyed 10 more years of active living. Then my disease began to overtake me; my kidneys were failing, I […]
At age 7, Sophie was treated for a brain tumor at Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center. As a result of her treatment, she struggled with ongoing fatigue, weakness on her right side, and chronic headaches. Sophie began her freshman year as one of 2,000 students at a large public high school. […]
By Timothy Rourke Most parents treasure the big moments in a child’s life: first steps, first word, first day of school. I, on the other hand, treasure every moment with my son, Declan – the simple act of eating breakfast together, watching him do his homework, or taking him to […]
The Super Bowl this weekend is the result of a lot of training and planning (and luck) on the part of the two competing teams. Players have to know their roles and everyone needs to work to the same game plan — and be ready to change tactics in an […]
Walk down the vitamins and supplements aisle of a pharmacy or grocery store, and you’ll see a mind-boggling array of options. It can be hard to know which one is best. And if you’re a cancer patient looking for the right dietary supplement, there are even more issues to take […]