Dentist Brings a Smile to Transplant Patients

san fran 281_150x150

Like many family members of cancer patients, Stephen Matarazzo, DMD, wanted a meaningful way to thank the Dana-Farber caregivers who saved his son Michael’s life. What he came up with involved offering his own professional expertise to protect the smiles of others. A dentist based in Quincy, Mass., Matarazzo provides pro bono dental exams and services to cancer and benign hematology patients who, like his son did, need stem cell transplants. Dental visits are critical transplants suppress the immune system, and patients are at significant risk for developing infections – in some cases life-threatening ones. The oral cavity and teeth …

Continue reading

Months After Transplant, Teen Hits the Soccer Field

Some 100 days after receiving a stem cell transplant to cure his severe aplastic anemia, 13-year-old Behaylu Barry still couldn’t invite friends into his home. He can’t return to school until January, when his immune system will finally be strong enough to fight the pathogens present in indoor spaces. Yet  Behaylu was doing so well that he was cleared to play soccer – outdoors, of course — for the first time since February, when he was diagnosed with the life-threatening blood disorder. On August 23, Behaylu walked onto the field with the Exeter (N.H.) Hawks for a two-game pre-season tournament. …

Continue reading

What to Do if Your Child Relapses

Deanna and Tatyana AbramsSMALL

Relapse is a word any cancer patient dreads, but for parents of children with cancer, fear of the cancer coming back can be acute. Yet, “a cure is possible for many patients whose cancer returns,” says Barbara Degar, MD.  “We approach the second experience with the same rigor we brought the first time, and come up with the best strategy to achieve a second remission.” About 15-20 percent of children with acute lymphoblastic  leukemia (ALL) will relapse, 40 percent of children with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), and 50 percent of children with neuroblastoma. In some cases, treatment the second time …

Continue reading

Living Life

By Jack Coates In May 2001, I was diagnosed with medullablastoma. I was 19 years old and had just finished my freshman year at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. Medullablastoma is a cancer that affects the brain and the spine. I had three surgeries, 52 weeks of chemo, and six weeks of radiation. I spent a year and two months in the hospital and went from 217 pounds to 97. I was scared. I was asking God: “Why?  Why did it have to happen to me?” It was shocking. Many things went through my mind.

A Tattoo and a Bulldog: How One Family Coped with Cancer

By Cindy Coyle My husband Bill was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma in January 2012. Needless to say it was a great shock to us and our three children, Billy, Sasha-Lee, and Jimmy. Looking back, I realize how two unlikely events guided us through his treatment and recovery: a tattoo and a bulldog.

Patient’s Grandson: How My Grandfather Inspires Me

Many young boys have special relationships with their grandfathers. Few express their feelings as eloquently as young Oliver Parry. Inspired by his grandfather’s work and his battle with cancer, the nine-year-old penned the essay below, winning a regional award from the 2013-2014 Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Reflections contest, and potentially qualifying for a national competition. Oliver’s story reminds us that cancer’s reach is wide, and it affects the patient’s whole family. The essay is as inspiring to us as Oliver’s grandfather is to him, particularly given the year that Oliver went through; the young boy lives in Newtown, Conn., and …

Continue reading

Five Things You Need to Know About Donating Bone Marrow

Thousands of people who face life-threatening blood diseases, such as leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma, require treatment with a stem cell transplantation (also referred to as a bone marrow transplantation). For many patients, the best treatment approach is an allogeneic transplant, in which healthy stem cells are collected from another person. The stem cell donor is selected based on how well his or her Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) markers match that of the patient. Although a person’s HLA type is inherited from his or her parents, the likelihood of finding an HLA match with a family member is only 25 …

Continue reading

How Donated Blood and Platelets Help Cancer Patients

If you’ve ever donated blood or platelets, there’s a reasonable chance that your donation went to help a cancer patient. That’s because cancer and certain treatments can damage blood cells, which means some patients may need transfusions of one or more types of blood components:

Top 10 Insight Stories from 2013

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: