A comprehensive approach to care for cancer survivors

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 years after cancer treatment can bring physical and psychological challenges, says Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, founder and director of Dana-Farber’s Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer and director of the Adult Survivorship Program.

Therapy dogs bring smiles to kids with cancer

With the pitter patter of small feet, Phil makes his way through the halls of Boston Children’s Hospital. He walks with a purpose, boarding the elevator that takes him to the oncology floor for his next appointment. Phil is a new face in 6 North, the oncology unit at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. A spunky pug mix who knows a trick or two, Phil is one of nine therapy dogs who visit pediatric patients at Boston Children’s Hospital as part of the Pawprints Program. What he lacks in medical credentials and size, he easily makes up for in …

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Traveling with cancer

For most people, a cancer diagnosis brings the daily routine of life to a grinding halt, at least temporarily. But after the initial shock wears off, many patients strive to resume their everyday activities, including vacation or travel plans. Being treated for cancer doesn’t necessarily mean cancelling your summer vacation. Many people travel during and after cancer treatment. But it can require a little planning.

How to help your kids cope with your cancer

For people with cancer, deciding how, and what, to tell others about the diagnosis can be a challenge. How do you tell your loved ones, or your employer, that you have cancer? For parents, there’s another degree of difficulty: What do you say to your children? How much will they understand, and what’s the best approach? Susan Englander, LICSW, a social worker at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who specializes in working with young adult patients — many of whom have children — offers these tips to parents with cancer on how to talk to their kids and help them through the …

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Do friends, family affect your health?

In low-income, minority communities, tight-knit social connections can lead people to eat right and be physically active — but they can also sometimes be an obstacle to a healthy lifestyle, according to new research by investigators at Dana-Farber and the Harvard School of Public Health. The findings present a mixed picture of the benefits and potential downsides of social ties as they relate to a healthy lifestyle.

‘Designed by patients like me’: A patient’s perspective on the Yawkey Center

As a Dana-Farber employee planning events for the opening of Dana-Farber’s Yawkey Center for Cancer Care, I knew the building was designed with guidance from patients and families. But I had no idea how important this was until shortly after the building opened – and, newly diagnosed with acute t-cell lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma, I walked through the doors as a patient myself.

A focus on patient safety during radiation

March 4-10 is Patient Safety Awareness Week; at Dana-Farber, patient safety is at the top of our list 365 days a year. Here, we focus on one aspect of cancer treatment in which it’s especially important: radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is common – about two-thirds of all cancer patients can expect it to be included in their care. And while radiation therapy has been used for 100 years, it’s understandable that the prospect might make you anxious, particularly with regard to safety concerns. As with all aspects of cancer treatment at Dana-Farber, patient safety is at the core of radiation …

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Five tips for cancer caregivers

If you’re supporting a friend or family member who is undergoing cancer treatment, you may not think of yourself as a “caregiver.” It’s a role that can be very rewarding, but also challenging and stressful. You may find yourself juggling an incredible range of duties above and beyond what you regularly do at home and at work. From driving your loved one to appointments, to discussing medical issues with health care professionals, to making dinner every night, you may find that you’re taking care of nearly everything – except yourself. But your loved one’s well-being depends on you, so it’s …

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Cancer treatment and fertility: Planning for the future

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.