Advice for Parenting During Cancer Treatment

parenting, cancer

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 Dibiaso, LICSW, and Kelly Drummond, LICSW. For Silvia, talking with her three children upfront, being honest, and maintaining structures and routines were vital in managing family life during treatment, as was finding childcare and transportation support. “Families come in all shapes and sizes now,” said Drummond, who was Silvia’s social …

Continue reading

Tips for Managing Neuropathy


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 improve nerve damage, a combination of vitamins, supplements, pain medications, adaptive techniques and complementary therapies may help reduce symptoms. Clare Sullivan, MPH, BSN, OCN, clinical program manager for Patient Education at Dana-Farber, recently answered questions about neuropathy during a live text chat. Sullivan covered safety, prevention, symptom management, and more. …

Continue reading

What Questions Should You Ask When Cancer Treatment Ends?

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 and survivorship care plan? A treatment summary will usually include your cancer diagnosis and describe the medical care that you received. A survivorship care plan will describe follow-up screenings you might need, as well as preventive measures to help prevent future health problems. It may also offer tips for managing …

Continue reading

At 91 Years Old, Sandy Cunningham Keeps On Volunteering for Cancer Patients

Sandy Cunningham 150

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 get up in the morning, a purpose and a place to be,” says Cunningham, 91, a retired investment advisor, and for the last 16 years, a weekly volunteer at Dana-Farber. “This is mine. I used to take care of people and their money; now I take care of people facing …

Continue reading

Nurses Feel ‘Privilege’ of Working with Patients and Colleagues

Honoring Dana-Farber nurses

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 to reflect on what drew them to the field of oncology, and what they enjoy most about it. “It’s a privilege to help people on their cancer journey,” says Laurie Appleby, NP, of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology. “The human connection we make with patients and families, and the …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

Survivor, Hero, Battle: The Complicated Language of Cancer

The language of cancer

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 recent Young Adult Cancer Conference hosted by the Young Adult Program at Dana-Farber. Labeling your cancer, and yourself as a patient or survivor, is often one of the most challenging aspects of the cancer experience, they said. Loved ones and those without cancer often consider cancer patients “heroes,” but, as …

Continue reading

Helping Cancer Patients ‘Live Life to the Fullest’


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 like treating a cancer when a person comes in, we look at the person and the characteristics of the disease,” Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, director of Dana-Farber’s Adult Survivorship Program. “We need to tailor survivorship care as well, to help patients move forward and live life to the fullest.” Partridge …

Continue reading

How to Manage Stress and Anxiety During Cancer Treatment

managing stress when you have cancer

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 anxiety gets bigger,” said Fasciano, who provides individual counseling to patients through her role as director of Dana-Farber’s Young Adult Program. “It’s important to recognize when you’re feeling anxious and where it’s coming from.” Kat Caverly (@KatCaverly), Noel Dawes (@NoelDawes), Chris Gazarian (@ChrisGaz), and Carolyn Ridge (@cr1682) joined Fasciano for …

Continue reading

Finding the Right Words at the Right Time

SMALL_Staff Portrait Justin Sanders October 2014

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 first patient who identified me as “my doctor.” She did so enthusiastically, asking the inpatient medical teams who frequently cared for her to run every decision by me. As a trainee, and given her complex needs, I found those requests both absurd and overwhelming. By 65 years of age, Ms. …

Continue reading