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 too young to find peers in adult clinics (most people diagnosed with cancer are 55 or older).
But the outlook is getting brighter. Read more
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 prepared for the road ahead. Don’t forget to: Read more
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 of anger, sadness, and fear. I don’t have a medical background, and honestly didn’t understand some of the terminology that doctors used during the diagnosis and the treatment. This made me feel helpless. But I wanted to help. So I discovered other ways I could support my friend.
First and foremost, I tried to keep him positive and make him as comfortable as possible. I brought him the food he liked, watched movies with him, and stayed up late talking with him when he was sad and discouraged. I also tried to bring humor to his day because, as everyone knows, laughter is powerful medicine. I spent as much time with him as I could, depending on his needs and those of his family, and made sure to plan things for the future that he could look forward to. I reassured his wife that I would do anything to help her so his most important source of strength and comfort felt supported, too. And, so he would feel as informed as possible, I researched other patients in similar positions with the same cancer, and shared what I learned about their experiences.
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, we have a solid team in place – physicians, nurses, social workers, and nurse practitioners like myself – working together to support and anticipate each cancer patient’s needs along the way. As you can imagine, significant physical and emotional issues can arise for our patients. Read more
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. Read more
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 cancer patients – even those undergoing difficult treatments. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to give yourself an extra boost during and after cancer treatment. Read more
by Anne Tonachel
In 1997, when our children were all grown up, my husband Dick and I moved from the suburbs to Cambridge, right near many Boston hospitals. We bought a condo with an extra bedroom, and we shortly thereafter read about Hospitality Homes in the paper. Getting involved with them seemed like a great way to do something useful with the space.
We’ve been hosting people for more than 15 years now, and every individual and family is different. We’ve celebrated with some, cried with others, but it’s always meaningful. We love having people from all over the world stay at our home. One couple from Italy stayed with us while their baby was being treated at Boston Children’s Hospital. When we traveled to Italy on vacation they returned the favor. It felt like we were visiting old friends.
It’s hard to believe that the holidays are upon us – again. The stores are overflowing with holiday goods as families gear up for their celebrations.
However, if someone you love has recently died, thinking about the holidays may bring you anguish. What were once happy times might now fill you with tremendous sadness and heartache. You may even wish that this year, you could skip the holidays all together. Read more
What would happen if you were accidentally knocked unconscious and had to be taken to the emergency room? Would doctors know who to go to with questions about your care?
A health care proxy form is a legal document that names a trusted person who can make medical decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself. Read more
“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 group of cancer patients. Read more