Current lymphoma therapies are a far cry from the mustard gas used more than 50 years ago. More treatment options, including ones that may be more effective and less toxic, are being studied in ongoing clinical trials. “Clinical trials really are the future of lymphoma treatment,” says Ann LaCasce, MD, a medical oncologist in the Adult Lymphoma Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.
More than 70 years ago, two pharmacologists began looking at mustard gas as a possible treatment for lymphoma. The chemical, used during World War I, lowered blood counts and destroyed lymph nodes in soldiers who were exposed to the gas. Two decades after the war, a thoracic surgeon named Gustav Lindskog used nitrogen mustard to successfully treat a patient with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Liz Moroney celebrated her 23rd birthday in an unusual place — at a fertility clinic. Liz, a recent college graduate, wanted to plan for having children before it was too late. Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in June 2010, she spent 4 months in chemotherapy treatment in New York. Afterward, she and her reproductive endocrinologist watched her fertility numbers dwindle over a year of visits. Her endocrinologist was skeptical of the effectiveness of fertility treatment; So, too, was Liz.
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.
Imagine being 22 and having your two biggest fears come true: You have cancer, and your treatment may leave you unable to have children in the future. While you’re still coming to terms with the diagnosis, you now have to make some major life decisions. Do you want to freeze your eggs? Or should you choose a sperm donor and freeze fertilized eggs instead? Don’t forget to consider your husband’s feelings — even though he isn’t even in your life yet.