Category Archives: Cancer Stories

Priority Areas Illustrate Expertise

With a breadth that addresses all types of breast
and gynecologic cancers – from the common to the
obscure, the early-stage to the advanced – the Susan F.
Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber is
propelling the science and fine-tuning patient care for
women (and in a few cases, men) of all ages.
The center’s research and care expertise is growing
in four major areas where patients find themselves in
particular need of assistance: breast surgery, metastatic
breast cancer, breast cancer in young women, and
recurrent ovarian cancer.
Breast Surgery
Colleen Sullivan was prepared to follow a typical plan
for her breast cancer: a lumpectomy followed by radia-
tion. When she learned a …

 

A Daughter’s Story

Julia is a student at the University of Texas at Austin. She is like any other typical college student: she has five siblings, countless number of friends, and does art as one of her many hobbies. Unfortunately though, her mother, Martha, was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2014, turning her life upside down.
It came as a shock to the family, because Julia’s mom seemed very healthy and there wasn’t any history of breast cancer in the family beforehand. However, she underwent a double mastectomy. Luckily, the cancer hadn’t reached her lymph nodes, so chemotherapy was not deemed necessary.
Being the …

 

How to Help Patients During the Holidays

The holidays are a time for celebrating with family and friends, but the season can bring challenges for cancer patients and those who have recently completed treatment. The stresses of cancer may leave them feeling out of touch or overburdened with traditional holiday responsibilities. If someone you know is in, or has recently completed, treatment for cancer, consider these tips for helping during the holidays.

Let the patient take the lead. Some people will want to celebrate the holiday season as they always have, but others may want to step back and be less festive. Even if treatment is over, your …

 

Dana-Farber team helps teacher find inner strength during breast cancer fight

Before a diagnosis of breast cancer, a double mastectomy, and months of grueling treatment, fifth-grader teacher and mom Colleen Sullivan “never, ever” would have described herself as strong or envisioned a classroom full of 10-year-olds clapping as she removed her wig. But Colleen’s journey fighting cancer at Dana-Farber has given her a new perspective of herself—and on life.
“Life is a gift,” she says. “I now understand the idea of stopping to smell the roses.”
Colleen was diagnosed after her primary care doctor found a lump during an annual physical. Within days, tests confirmed that she had invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). As …

 

Themed Chemo Visits Help Breast Cancer Patient Cope with Treatment

Cancer treatment is never fun, but Cheryl St. Onge figures if she has to go through it, she’s doing it with style — and smiles.
Each time the breast cancer patient arrives at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center at Milford Regional Medical Center for her infusion visit, she wears a different themed outfit. One time she was a cowgirl with boots, hat, and a fringed vest; another time she came ready for a Hawaiian luau with the appropriate loud shirt and lei. Last month she was a nurse in scrubs.
Susan and Rita on “Margaritaville Day” (That’s a sports drink margarita)
Cheryl and …

 

Five Things Young Women with Breast Cancer Should Know

While the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer are age 55 or older, about 14,500 women age 45 and younger are diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here are some facts about breast cancer all young women should know.
1. Genetic testing can help identify women who are at increased risk
SOG_9339_12-2While all women are at risk for breast cancer, women who have a family history of premenopausal breast or ovarian cancer or a family member with a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene are at a higher risk and …

 

Young, Poorer Breast Cancer Patients More Likely to Have Delays in Care

Young women with fewer financial resources are more likely to experience long delays between the time they detect a breast abnormality and the time they get a diagnosis, a recent study shows. Initially launched to help researchers better understand why breast cancers are more deadly in young women, the study was led by Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, a breast oncologist in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, and Kathryn Ruddy, MD, MPH, formerly of Dana-Farber and now at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
The study involved 585 women under age 40 who had recently been diagnosed …

 

Time to get caught up with Peter

Lets start off by saying it has been a difficult and challenging year with cancer. We have had 4 rounds of radiation in a four month period. I received a Leptomeningeal diagnosis (which means the cancer is in the fluid of my spine and brain). I received whole brain radiation, which brought me some relief. Due to the Leptomeningeal disease I was having trouble with my speech, swallow and balance. The radiation helped everything.
I am currently at home with open hospice. Right now they only have to be here once a week, I am currently I am on steroids and …

 

Young Woman with Breast Cancer Finds Dream Team

A young woman in her prime, with a full life and meaningful career, does not expect a cancer diagnosis. But that is what happened to 34-year-old Erin, who received the news when she was in Paris with her mother and sister, on a long-awaited trip to celebrate Mother’s Day.

Before she left, she had felt a lump in her right breast, and underwent several screening tests. When her doctor called her in Paris to say she had breast cancer, he referred her to the Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at …

 

Strange Bedfellows Ivy’s Story

As if divorce, breast cancer and chemo wasn’t enough, Hurricane Sandy blew me out of my cozy oceanfront Long Beach apartment and into my ex husband’s bachelor pad.
On the morning of Monday, October 28, 2012, my eight year old son and I had finished pasting three bats on our windows, trying to get into the Halloween mood. A storm brewing off of the East coast was headed for the Tri -State area. On the Friday before the weekend, they’d cancelled my son’s school preparing for the storm to hit land. By Sunday the camera crews from the networks that descended …