Category Archives: Cancer Stories

Rania Samaha: Mother, Caretaker, Patient

If you read about Dina Sabra’s experience with breast cancer, I’m sure you remember her cousin and caretaker, Rania Samaha. Like Dina, breast cancer has played a huge role in Rania’s life. 
Rania As a Caretaker
Rania, is a caretaker to the maximum extent of the word. As a 9 year old, Rania was giving her diabetic mother diabetes shots and joined her mother in every hospital room her mother has ever been in. As a newlywed, Rania took in her father-in-law and looked after him until he passed of colon cancer 3 years later. As a 33 year old, Rania dropped …

 

Share Your Story: Dina Sabra (Part 2/2)

Within 10 days of being diagnosed with DCIS breast cancer, Dina Sabra was off to Lenox Hill Long Island Jewish Hospital in the Upper East Side for a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Despite Dina’s Canadian citizenship and lack of insurance in the US, she chose to undergo her operation in the States because she would be treated much quicker as a patient paying out-of-pocket. Initially, the hospital wanted to keep Dina around for a few months before her operation, but they ended up being able to schedule her in three and a half weeks after her arrival. “I guess …

 

Share Your Story: Dina Sabra (Part 1/2)

“In my mind, it was always a matter of, not if but, when,” said Dina Sabra, Canadian-Egyptian breast cancer survivor. With breast cancer making an appearance in her maternal family history for over three consecutive generations, Dina knew breast cancer would be an unwelcome visitor in her life one day; however, she didn’t expect the visit to come so soon. Dina’s grandmother, mother and aunt all battled breast cancer post-menopause, prompting Dina’s shock when her battle came at age 36. 
As a result of her family’s relationship with breast cancer, Dina routinely visited a breast specialist in Dubai, UAE, where she, …

 

Metastatic Breast Cancer Survivor Thriving on Clinical Trial

A clinical trial at Dana-Farber has kept Sharon DeCosta’s stage IV metastatic breast cancer stabilized for three years, allowing her a full life of traveling and doting on her three young grandchildren, with a fourth due in December.
It may seem odd that DeCosta celebrates the anniversary of her diagnosis each year with a toast, until you realize the significance of the date.
“I found out I had cancer on April 27, 2015—my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary,” says DeCosta. “When the doctor told me I thought, ‘Wait a minute, I’m supposed to be on a beach somewhere sipping on a margarita, not hearing …

 

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 …