By Maria Pearson
As a technology teacher who had a long career with IBM before going into education, I have encountered all sorts of opportunities to teach – and to learn. The biggest such opportunity of my life occurred at the intersection of cancer, technology, and Dana-Farber.
In August 2010, I was diagnosed with stage III multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. No search engine was adequate in comforting my fears of life expectancy, treatment, or facing a stark life-altering challenge.
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
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 was drawn and tested as a possible match.
Neither was a match but Hurkett felt compelled to help. When he learned about the need for platelets – which are vitally important for cancer patients as a means of replacing their own depleted supplies, as well as for trauma victims and other critically ill adults and children –he volunteered to donate.
On Thanksgiving Day every year, Marc Kutzer and his sister, Roberta Klein, have much to be thankful for.
In 2001, Kutzer went to his primary care physician for a routine physical. What his doctor discovered led Kutzer, 52, to Dana-Farber — and to a procedure he credits for saving not only his life, but also his sister’s. Read more
With Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana-Farber has performed thousands of stem cell/bone marrow transplants for adult and pediatric patients with blood cancers and other serious illnesses.
What’s the difference between these two terms? As it turns out, the only real distinction is in the method of collecting the stem cells.
Let’s start with the basics. Read more
Craig Johnson (left) with stem donor Henrik Janssen
Their last names are practically identical. They are both fathers, and their oldest sons, now 6’3, were born on the same day – just two hours apart. “Blood brothers” Craig Johnson and Henrik Janssen had much to celebrate recently. Read more
One of the easiest and most effective ways to help cancer patients is to give blood. There is a constant need for donations, but especially so in the summer when people are on vacation and unable to donate. One pint of blood can save up to two lives, and one platelet donation can save up to three. Read more
In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship.
To look at 9-year-old baseball player and Lego champion Charlie Rider, you’d never guess he’d had cancer for nearly half his life. Read more
When Good Morning America host Robin Roberts revealed that she has myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), she turned a spotlight on a group of blood disorders that affect an estimated 35,000 to 55,000 people in the United States.
In patients with MDS, the bone marrow fails to produce normal quantities of blood cells and the cells themselves are often abnormal, resulting in anemia and an array of symptoms including paleness, fatigue, susceptibility to infections, and easy bruising or bleeding. The syndrome, of which there are at least 15,000 new diagnoses each year in the United States, formerly was known as “pre-leukemia” because about one-third of patients go on to develop acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).
At this year’s American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting, Dana-Farber scientists presented major findings that could one day improve diagnosis and treatment of blood cancers, extend life, or even cure some diseases.
Among the highlights:
Steven Treon, MD, PhD, and his colleagues identified a gene mutation that underlies the vast majority of cases of Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The results suggest that new, effective treatments are now possible for people with Waldenström’s. Read more about Dr. Treon’s Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia research breakthrough.
Catherine J. Wu, MD, co-led investigators who discovered nine new gene mutations that could help doctors predict if and how chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) will progress, and lead to new treatments for CLL. Take a closer look at Dr. Wu’s CLL research.
Corey Cutler, MD, MPH, and his colleagues reported on a new clinical trial that may improve the ability of stem cells from umbilical cord blood to take root in patients receiving a stem cell transplant more quickly and with a higher degree of success. Learn more about Dr. Cutler’s stem cell transplant clinical trial.