Young Breast Cancer Patient Puts Healing in Her Own Hands

Sitting recently in Dana-Farber’s Healing Garden, Kireina Bell Sancho focuses on her task. She slowly works navy blue yarn through her needles, drawing the yarn back and forth to form the base of a headband – a gift for her sister. She says the repetitive motion, which requires both attention and precision, has been stress-relieving during … Continued

How Does Palliative Care Help Cancer Patients?

Cancer is a serious illness – at any stage – and patients often experience painful symptoms and side effects that can make treatment more difficult to tolerate, both physically and emotionally. Seeking assistance from palliative care professionals can help patients maintain quality of life throughout treatment. But what do palliative care clinicians do, and how … Continued

Cancer Mythbusters Episode #6 – Is Palliative Care Only for End-of-Life Patients?

Palliative care is an often misunderstood specialty, focused on providing support and pain management strategies to cancer patients throughout all stages of their illness. This approach, which can be blended into curative cancer therapy, focuses on care for the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. Read More: Oncology and Palliative Care Team Up to Benefit … Continued

Cancer Survivors Offer Tips to New Patients Starting Treatment

Gaining the wisdom of another’s experience can be invaluable when facing something new – including cancer. Through the SoulMates program at Dana-Farber’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, newly diagnosed breast cancer patients can be paired with trained volunteers who have already been through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or other kinds of treatment. “Our volunteers … Continued

Tips for Navigating the Hospital World as an LGBTQ Patient

By Tara Baysol Navigating the health care arena can be especially nerve-wracking for LGBTQ patients, many of whom dread the possibility of awkward encounters, judgmental questions, or outright discrimination. Even if hospitals and other facilities are committed to serving our community, we can still face insensitive interactions that leave us wanting to run out of … Continued

What to Say When a Loved One Has Cancer

Empathizing with a cancer patient can be difficult. After all, many people haven’t had the experience of being diagnosed with cancer themselves, so knowing what to say when a loved one tells you about their illness can be tricky. “When someone you love is dealing with something like cancer, there’s a feeling of helplessness,” explains … Continued

Facing Fertility Issues as a Pediatric Cancer Survivor

In her research studies with young adult survivors of childhood cancers, pediatric oncologist Natasha Frederick, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, explored sexual dysfunction in survivors between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. She found that most of these young survivors reporting such problems keep their concerns from partners, loved ones, and caregivers, and … Continued

Who Are the Different Nurses on a Cancer Care Team?

Nurses play a critical role in caring for cancer patients. From administering therapies and managing side effects, to preparing patients and families for what to expect, they are often the providers who patients see the most. And because of the range of services they provide, there are often multiple nurses a patient will see throughout … Continued

How Can Exercise Help Patients with Brain Tumors?

For many brain tumor patients, surgery is an important step in the treatment process. While recovering from brain surgery can be a difficult process, your care team will help support you through treatment and guide you through the recovery process. Once a patient is cleared by their care team for walking after brain surgery, light … Continued

Doctor and Nurse Team Up for Blood Cancers Support Group

By Ronni Gordon When my year of isolation ended after a stem cell transplant at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center in 2003, I looked for a blood cancer support group near my home in western Massachusetts. I found support groups for just about everyone except patients like me with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and other … Continued

Transforming End of Life Care through Communication

Justin Sanders’ path to Dana-Farber’s Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care department has meandered across the world. He grew up in Utah, studied art history in Pennsylvania, medicine in Vermont, and, as a Fulbright scholar, medical anthropology in London before he trained and worked as a family doctor in the Bronx and then as a hospitalist … Continued

Tips for Dealing with Lung Cancer Stigma

By Allison DiBiaso, LICSW A cancer diagnosis can fundamentally alter a person’s life, and it can often add an unexpected burden: stigma. Lung cancer patients are some of the people who experience this stigma most, as others may look at or treat them differently because of their diagnosis. In some cases, the patients themselves may … Continued

A Day in the Life: Dana-Farber Social Workers

For clinical social workers Annette Quinn, MSW, LICSW, and Sara Nemitz, MSW, LICSW, each day is unique. Part of Dana-Farber’s department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Quinn and Nemitz work closely with patients and their families to provide support during treatment, addressing the new anxieties and concerns many patients face after a cancer diagnosis. … Continued

Social Work Helps David Practice His Passion

Extreme stomach pains sent David Rubinstein to the emergency department in December 2011. After emergency surgery, he was diagnosed with stage IV carcinoid cancer, a rare gastrointestinal tumor – leaving him to grapple with the uncertainty of his future. “I live with the daily fear about what the future holds,” says Rubinstein, a professional musician … Continued

Gynecological Cancer Patients Find Safety, Solidarity in Support Group

Deb Petrishen says well-meaning but frustrating interactions can occur everywhere, from the grocery store to family functions. Although friends and loved ones are often sensitive and supportive, some may not know what to say to someone with stage III ovarian cancer, especially after two recurrences. Petrishen has just as much difficulty explaining her feelings. Except … Continued

Positivity and Cancer: Be Yourself

By Melissa Angiolillo When I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer at age 35, I was overcome with fear. Buried within that fear was guilt that I wasn’t handling my diagnosis the “right” way. The pressure to be positive was overwhelming. It seemed as though I was expected to wrap myself in a pink … Continued

Rare Sarcoma Patient Finds New Purpose in Helping Others

By Mary Anne Oldford I was born to survive. Before I was born, I almost lost my life when my mother had a fibroid tumor surgically removed while I was still in the womb. Later, as a 5-year-old, I was diagnosed with polio, paralyzed, and told I would never walk again. After years of therapy in … Continued

Meeting Two Challenges: Tips for Dealing with a Cancer-Related Amputation

Felipe Estrela thought things couldn’t get tougher when he was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue cancer called biphasic synovial sarcoma in 2014. Then, shortly after having a tumor the size of a small football removed from his right leg, the 29-year-old faced a new challenge:  an above-the-knee amputation. A husband and father of three … Continued

Young Woman with Breast Cancer Finds Reassurance

When Erin’s phone rang the night before her first visit to Dana-Farber’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, she was surprised to hear the voice of the oncologist she would see the next day: Ann Partridge, MD, MPH. “She called to tell me it was going to be okay,” says Erin, who was 36 … Continued

Tips for Maintaining Intimacy During Cancer

Cancer and its treatment can affect every aspect of a patient’s life, and many patients talk about how to find a “new normal” after a cancer diagnosis. Sharon Bober, PhD, director of Dana-Farber’s Sexual Health Program, says part of this new normal can be changes in your sexual and intimate life. “If you’re not feeling … Continued