Ben O’Clair was a college senior studying for finals when he first felt the twinges of pain in his side. A day later, the 21-year-old was in a hospital learning he had cancer.
He left school immediately, moved back to his mother’s house in Holliston, Mass., and began arduous chemotherapy treatments at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC).
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.
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 process. Read more
Rebecca Byrne had waited years for a doctor to tell her, “You’re pregnant.” She never imagined that just a few months after she first heard those words, she would hear four more: “You have breast cancer.”
Byrne still tears up when telling the story, but smiles when her 20-month-old daughter, Emelia, leaps into her lap. Emelia is the happy outcome of a painful period of Byrne’s life, when the joys of pending and early motherhood were shadowed by chemotherapy treatments, hair loss, radiation, and uncertainty. Read more
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. Read more