A cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment can come with many different emotions: anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, and sadness. For some patients, that sadness can become a serious issue; approximately one quarter of cancer patients become depressed during or after treatment. “Patients will have feelings of sadness and a lack of […]
Regardless of age or diagnosis, insomnia is one of the most common side effects cancer patients experience. That doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly. Insomnia should be discussed with your cancer team, as it can lead to other health issues. Fortunately, there are new and novel approaches patients can […]
Many people will spend the days after Halloween trying to shed weight from excess candy, but Griffin Lincoln will be seeking all the pounds he can – with good reason. For the fifth year, the Canton, Mass., teenager will be collecting leftover Halloween goodies and giving them to Dana-Farber for […]
By Samantha Watson I went through cancer treatment twice in my early 20s, diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in December 1999 and secondary myelodysplastic syndrome (pre-leukemia) in April 2001. I had to leave college to go through chemo, surgeries and eventually a bone marrow transplant, and I sat in a hospital […]
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 […]
Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), a condition that is a result of nerve damage caused by cancer treatment, can be a frustrating side effect patients face. People with CIPN can experience tingling, numbness and pain in the arms, hands, legs and feet. Although there is no clear CIPN treatment that can […]
The successful end of cancer treatment is a welcome milestone for any patient, but it’s also the beginning of an important new chapter. Here are some questions to ask your care team at the end of treatment to help you live well beyond cancer: Can I get a treatment summary […]
Ingersoll “Sandy” Cunningham has the dignified, silver-haired appearance of a man you’d expect to find sipping iced tea at the country club. So what is this Harvard-educated great-grandfather doing pushing food carts through the hallways of Dana-Farber, handing out sandwiches to patients? “You’ve got to have some objective when you […]
Dana-Farber oncology nurses have grown accustomed to being asked how they can do such a difficult job every day. But talk with them and you’ll learn that they feel far more blessed than burdened by these challenges. In honor of National Nurses Week May 6-12, we asked four Dana-Farber nurses […]
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 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 […]
This is an excerpt from a perspective published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Feb. 12, 2015. By Justin Sanders, MD, MSc When Ms. C. died, I was sad but not surprised. I had met her 4 years earlier, when I was an intern and she was 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 […]
Blood products like whole blood and platelets are lifesaving for cancer patients at Dana-Farber and elsewhere. It comes as no surprise, then, that many cancer survivors want to return the favor by donating at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center, which collects blood products to benefit patients at both Dana-Farber […]
By Christina Dixon Cancer turned my world upside-down overnight. I had just graduated from college, moved to Boston after finishing undergrad at Washington and Lee in Virginia, and started my dream job on an interest rate derivatives sales desk. Suddenly, instead of working, spending time with my friends, and playing sports, […]
By this time of year, most New England Patriots football fans are familiar with head coach Bill Belichick’s style of avoiding all talk of championships to focus solely on his team’s next opponent. The same words could ring true for Patriots fan Lou Dittami – who recently passed his 600th […]
For many, the holiday season is a time of gift-giving, warm meals, and celebration. But, for families with limited financial resources who are dealing with cancer treatment, the holidays can be overwhelming and stressful. That’s where Ellen Casey-Magleby and Deborah Toffler, MSW, LCSW, come in. Casey-Magleby, program administrator for Social […]
Erin Silva, RN, BSN, has formed very strong connections with her adult patients at Dana-Farber/New Hampshire Oncology-Hematology (Dana-Farber/NHOH) in Londonderry, New Hampshire. However, the 30-year-old oncology nurse rarely saw the full impact of cancer on their children. After a stint at summer camp, she has a much better idea. Silva […]
Adam LaReau has seen courage. The 34-year-old Navy SEAL combat veteran spent 11 years serving his country, and has seen courage in the actions of his fellow SEALS and through the children of fallen comrades who must learn to grow up without their fathers. Now living in Boston, LaReau has […]
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 […]
Karen Fasciano, PsyD, director of the Young Adult Program at Dana-Farber, recently joined young adults with cancer from across the country for a Google+ Hangout to discuss the challenges of facing cancer as a young person. “Cancer is different when you are building your adult life,” said Fasciano. “[Cancer] can […]
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, […]
As patients come through for their MRIs and CT scans, MJ Murphy, RN, BS, has roughly 15 minutes to sit and talk, discuss treatment, and hear updates on friends and family. It’s not much time, but Murphy always tries to coax a smile. “I love referring to the friends and […]
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 […]
Although it is not a common disease, esophageal cancer affects about 18,000 new patients each year in the United States. Typically, the disease is found more often in men than in women, with men having about a ten-fold higher risk of developing esophageal cancer. “Esophageal and gastric cancers are some […]
A young woman in her prime, with a full life and meaningful career, does not expect a cancer diagnosis. But that is what happened to 34-year-old Erin, who received the news when she was in Paris with her mother and sister, on a long-awaited trip to celebrate Mother’s Day.
A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel has recommended that a DNA test should be the primary screening tool for cervical cancer, rather than the traditional Pap smear. The DNA test detects the DNA of human papillomavirus (HPV), the sexually transmitted infection that causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. […]
By Bethany-Rose Daubman, MD As a palliative care physician, part of my job is to help foster communication among family members making difficult health care decisions. This often relates to end-of-life matters, a topic I’ve grown comfortable with. In the department of psychosocial oncology and palliative care at Dana-Farber, my colleagues […]
Although there were fewer than 8,000 cases of testicular cancer in the United States in 2013, the disease often creates major concerns about fertility and sexuality for men of all ages.
As 2013 comes to a close, we’re looking back at some of our favorite Insight posts from the last year. From inspiring patient stories to important research, here is our top 10 list:
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 […]
As the holiday season fills with family gatherings, travel and potluck parties, it is important to be extra attentive to avoiding germs. In addition to getting a flu shot, there are a number of other ways to prevent illness. Candace Hsieh, RN, CIC, of Dana-Farber’s Center for Patient Safety, offers […]
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.
By Maggie Loucks, NP-C When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 28, during my last semester of graduate school, I remember thinking that this had to mean something. I needed to turn an unfortunate situation into something positive, so I decided to pursue oncology nursing where I felt I […]
By Julie Salinger, LICSW The holiday season is full of cheer, but it can also be stressful, especially for cancer patients and their family caregivers. In addition to the extra time spent on shopping, cooking, and socializing, family interactions may bring complex dynamics, old grievances, and varying expectations to the forefront. […]
More than 228,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2013, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). With November marking Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Pasi A. Jänne, MD, PhD, director of Dana-Farber’s Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology, answers some key questions about the […]
Cancer or blood disorder patients may have central lines, which make it easier to receive certain medications (such as chemotherapy) and have blood tests. The major types of central lines include Port-A-Cath, Hickman, and peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC). Patients receiving stem cell transplants sometimes have central lines. If you have a central […]
By Karen Lee Sobol I used to think of hospitals as halls of science. But recently I learned the word “clinic” comes from the Greek, meaning “bedside art.” While we’d all rather avoid a visit to a cancer clinic, there’s a lot we can do to make the first visit a […]
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 Patrick Palmer In June 2001, my wife, Angela Palmer, was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer while we were living in Tucson, Arizona. This was a huge shock. She had annual mammograms and never had any indications of disease. She had a lumpectomy and completed about 50 percent of […]
By Melanie Graham Thyroid cancer is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland. Found more often in women, the National Cancer Institute estimates 60,022 new cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2013. Like most forms of cancer, […]
by Richard Saltus For many parents, their first concern after a cancer diagnosis is the impact it will have on their children. There’s a lot of medical information to digest and decisions to be made, including how and when to tell your children. There are good reasons talk to your […]
By Meg McCormick When I learned I had a stage 4 breast cancer, I decided not let it rob me of the opportunities to enjoy my life. I still have a physically active, socially engaged lifestyle, and if you have metastatic breast cancer, so can you.
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, palliative care and hospice care differ in several important ways for cancer patients – most notably, the stage of treatment at which they are given. Both types of care focus on relieving patients’ pain and discomfort, whether caused by the cancer itself or […]
by Amy Atwood SWF, Bald, Undergoing Chemo and Radiation… Oh yeah, isn’t that the first profile you would click on if you were searching for the love of your life or even just a new ‘friend’ online? Dating in itself – or, I should say, finding someone to date – […]
While chemotherapy can kill cancer cells, certain chemotherapy drugs can also cause an uncomfortable and distressing condition that may produce numbness, tingling, and discomfort in the arms or legs. This condition, known as peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), can make it difficult for people to perform day-to-day activities. Although there is no sure prevention […]
by Richard Saltus Living with cancer is a physical and emotional challenge, but people may also find it hampers their thought processes and memory. Often the deficits are temporary, but sometimes they persist or appear months or years later as delayed effects. Cognitive difficulties, says Clare Humphreys, PhD, a neuropsychologist at […]
There are many decisions parents face after testing for genetic cancer risk, including whether to tell their children and how to approach the conversation. If you decide to talk to your children about the test results, allow yourself some time to process the information; you want to be calm and […]
By Melanie Graham Patients undergo different types of scanning procedures to produce detailed images of potential cancer growth. Depending on the cancer, physicians may use MRI, mammography, CT, PET/CT or other technologies. While some of these procedures use only x-rays or radio waves to create images, a PET/CT scan uses a […]
By Lori Buswell, RN I recently returned from a three-month rotation as a nurse fellow at a comprehensive cancer center at Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, a tiny African country known as the “land of a thousand hills.” The hospital, built and operated by the Ministry of Health and Partners In […]
By Eric Schuller Palliative care is often misunderstood. People may associate it with end-of-life care or “giving up” – especially when facing a serious health challenge like cancer. But palliative care may not be what you think, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it. Here’s a closer look […]
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 […]
When solid tumors are diagnosed, they are often assigned a grade and a stage. The grade of a tumor is an indication of how quickly it is likely to grow and spread. In general, low-grade tumors grow slowly and higher-grade tumors grow more rapidly. Tumors are assigned a grade based […]
By Kelley Tuthill Hair loss can be a jarring side effect of chemotherapy. When I was treated for breast cancer, I was nervous about my appearance and decided to wear a wig. At first it was a strange experience, but wearing a wig helped me face the day — and […]
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 Wendy Akeson is passionate about both running and donating platelets. Never has she felt such a strong connection between these two roles as she did this year. Four minutes after completing her 10th consecutive Boston Marathon, Akeson heard the explosions that will forever link this year’s marathon […]
By Eric Schuller If you recently learned you have cancer, donating a sample of your cancer tissue to science is probably the last thing on your mind. But it’s a topic that you might discuss with someone on your health care team, because cancer researchers often rely on donated tissue […]
By Nancy Borstelmann, LICSW, MPH Having cancer can be isolating. Even if you’re surrounded by friends and loved ones, you may feel that no one understands what you’re going through. That’s why it can be helpful to join a support group attended by people who face a similar diagnosis, or […]
by Eric Schuller For many cancer patients, the Internet serves as a vital tool used to stay in touch with loved ones during treatment, find comfort and advice from other patients and caregivers, or even research clinical trials. But using the Web to learn more about a cancer diagnosis or […]
Just as Dana-Farber tailors treatment and support to children and young adults, the Older Adult Leukemia Program ̶ a specialized, clinical service ̶ addresses the other end of the spectrum: adults who are 65 and older, and have blood cancer such as leukemia or other bone marrow disorders.
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 Jane Roper When our five-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia (ALL) last summer, our world was turned upside down. Extended hospital stays, twice weekly clinic visits, the side effects of chemo and the constant possibility of unexpected hospital admissions mean stress and exhaustion for all of us. And looming […]
By Eric Schuller Getting cancer can be particularly difficult for young adults – classified by the National Cancer Institute as ages 15 to 39. Because the disease is relatively rare in this age group, these younger patients may find themselves isolated – too old to fit easily into childhood cancer programs, and […]
By Nancy Borstelmann, LICSW, MPH A cancer diagnosis can put even the most organized person into a state of disarray. That’s not surprising, because it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and out of control in the face of such stress. But there are steps you can take to ensure you’re best […]
by Richard Saltus Cells are like young children – they need a lot of guidance on how to behave. Your body’s cells are constantly getting that help – in the form of hormones, growth factors, and other chemicals telling them when to rest, grow, duplicate their DNA, divide, or […]
By Jim Donovan In 2002 my good friend died of cancer. He and I were at MIT together as undergraduates, where we shared a lot of great memories and developed a long-lasting friendship. Like most of us who walk with a loved one through a life-threatening disease, I experienced feelings […]
Most people seek opinions from experts when it comes to important matters, such as finances, children’s education, or a major purchase. Why not do so when it comes to your cancer treatment?
By Melissa Cochran, MS, NP For my cancer patients, a stem cell transplant is a life-changing event. They cannot work outside the home for a full year; visits to Dana-Farber are about the only excursions allowed. No more trips to the grocery store or dinners at a favorite restaurant. In our clinic, […]
by Michael Buller Whenever I’ve met people with cancer, I’ve been at a loss for what to say and which questions to ask. Now, as a cancer patient, I realize the irony.
Not long ago, doctors were often skeptical when cancer patients who had undergone chemotherapy complained that they were mentally foggy; unable to plan a week’s worth of meals or organize their finances as they could before. Patients called this side effect “chemobrain” and were frustrated by the lack of recognition […]
Bob Hurkett doesn’t know what became of the little girl he first heard of in 1998, but he thinks about her often. She was 5 years old and needed a bone marrow transplant. Hurkett and his wife, Jane, attended a donor drive hosted by the girl’s family where their blood […]
When Gov. Deval Patrick signed an oral chemotherapy parity bill into law on January 5, Massachusetts joined more than 20 states requiring health plans to cover oral cancer pills at a rate no less favorable than standard intravenous (IV) chemotherapy. The new law tells insurers that they cannot require higher […]
by Nancy Campbell, MS “How soon can I start exercising after I start cancer treatment?” It’s a question I hear often from patients who visit me for a fitness consult or class at Dana-Farber. My answer? “As soon as possible.” While it may seem counterintuitive, exercise offers key benefits for […]
by Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN, and Elizabeth Lundy, DI Grapefruits are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and other phytonutrients, but if you’re taking certain prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications, you may need to choose other fruits.