Every year, thousands of Dana-Farber patients pass through the Institute's doors with inspiring stories of struggle, strength, hope, and perseverance. Here are just a few of those stories.
Poet Richard Fox began treatment at Dana-Farber for throat and tongue cancer on Feb. 2, 2010, his 57th birthday. It took 16 months of chemotherapy, radiation, and recovery until he felt well enough to write poetry again — and when he did, he quickly found that his experience had a powerful influence on his prose.
Breast cancer survivor Debbie Dorsey looks back on her time as a patient in 1998, remembering the care she received and how she dealt with her anxiety through filmmaking and humor.
Jenna Shaw, 29, of Blaine, Maine, had been feeling sick for many months after her daughter, Madeline, was born in 2009. She lost 70 pounds in seven months and was fatigued from sore throats and infections.
When Michael Selsman came home from his morning jog two years ago, he noticed a lump on his chest. It was strange, because he'd never seen it before, but he figured it was probably just an irritation. A couple of weeks passed, and the lump grew larger.
As a physician who spent years treating blood cancer patients, Steven Weinreb, MD, knows the important role that stem cell transplants play. But he never thought he'd undergo one himself — or experience the side effects.
Amy Woodbury, a three-time cancer survivor at just 29, took steps during chemotherapy to preserve her fertility, and is now living a life she always wanted.
Ellen Collins, a Colorado native with a successful career in national sales at Vail Resorts, was raising two young children when she was diagnosed with stage 3 triple-negative breast cancer. Her care team gave her hope, and just a few years later, she met her surgeon at the top of Vail Mountain, cancer-free.
Rabbi Marc Samuels has faced many challenges in life, including Nazi concentration camps. Now, at 85, he is fighting a pre-leukemia condition called myelodysplastic syndrome, but considers himself lucky to have doctors from Dana-Farber's Older Adult Leukemia Program on his side.
Dr. Mark Weiner — a neurologist and avid cyclist — knew even before his CT scan that his symptoms were most likely the result of a brain tumor. He was right. Now, as a patient, he praises the teamwork and collaboration of his care team, and gives back by doing what he loves: riding his bike.
After suffering from severe headaches, Kevin was told he had a brain tumor. Despite surgery, his stage 4 glioblastoma returned. But a clinical trial drug has enabled him to remain stable since 2007.
While seeking a second opinion after a throat cancer diagnosis, Ali Abbas Ali found a team approach that went beyond innovative treatment, emphasizing a full spectrum of care and support that includes speech therapy, psychosocial services, nutrition, and pain management.
An increasing elderly population means more people live with cancer in their 80s or 90s – or beyond – like 102-year-old Bill Gurney. Researchers and doctors are working to adjust treatments accordingly.
Dana-Farber employees who are also cancer survivors have a special understanding of the patient experience – and a deep appreciation for the Institute's mission.
From a registry of seven million donors, Annette was a perfect match for Bob. And three years after the transplant that cured Bob's advanced myelodysplasic syndrome, he met the woman whose stem cells saved his life.
After an accident left Liz with partial vision and short-term memory loss, her dad was with her every step of the way. Today, they're colleagues in the Department of Cancer Biology.
Rather than being shy about facing male breast cancer, Michael Johnston is embracing the opportunity to speak out about a disease that will affect 1,910 men this year.
When a father of three lost his battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, his wife decided to keep ties to a place that had become like a second home, and "give back" as her husband had pledged to do.
After 250 donations, Blake is now challenging his colleagues to give platelet donation a try. "If everyone would just do it once then we'd have what we need to help patients," he says.
Margie Needelman, one of Dana-Farber's early autologous bone marrow transplant patients, was back at the Institute to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her transplant.
As a child, Erica Mayer, MD, MPH, developed a passion for medicine watching her father, Robert Mayer, MD, interact with patients. Today, the Drs. Mayer share a close relationship as colleagues at Dana-Farber.
While Paul Keane hopes that participating in clinical trials will lead to a cure for his multiple myeloma, he takes some comfort in knowing his efforts will help others no matter the outcome.
Energetic and full of humor, Judie Ham gets the most out of every day. For this five-time cancer survivor, that includes sharing her story with Dana-Farber patients and their families.
Cancer survivor Bill Hallahan knew almost nothing about the person who had saved his life. He hadn't even learned his bone marrow donor's name until one year after the transplant. But when he entered a Boston-area hotel last month for a celebration of marrow and stem cell donors, he spotted a 30-something man waiting in the lobby with his wife, and immediately sensed this was him.
Diane Cotting believes two things saved her life after she was diagnosed with breast cancer: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the sport of rowing.
Seventeen years ago, he was told he had multiple myeloma and three years to live – at the most. Thanks to experimental treatments in clinical trials at Dana-Farber, today he leads an active life.
After donating stem cells to cure her brother's leukemia and supporting her sister through breast cancer, this woman learns she has non-Hodgkins lymphoma and faces a stem cell transplant of her own.
As a patient at Dana-Farber's clinic at Faulkner Hospital, Marjorie learned a lot about the kindness of others. Now that she has finished treatment, she gives back by supporting others on their cancer journeys.
A stem cell donor and the recipient of her cells take turns telling their intertwined story – and explain how it felt when they met for the first time one year later.
During his wife's acute myelogenous leukemia treatment, Henry King found many reasons to be grateful to Dana-Farber's staff – and many ways to give back to the organization that cared for both of them.
Kelley Tuthill discovered integrative therapies as a way to help her juggle her breast cancer treatment with her roles as journalist, wife, and mother of two children under 5.
Dana-Farber transplant physician Robert Soiffer, MD, explains why making a stem cell donation is not just a generous gift – it's a life-changing, heroic act.
The Blanc family was prepared for the worst when they learned that Rick was diagnosed with a brain tumor. A Dana-Farber doctor offered them hope, and five years later they welcomed the birth of their second child, a boy.
The long journey Rich Boyajian started when he was diagnosed with leukemia (CML) in 1996 at the age of 28 is far from over, despite the fact that he's been disease free for eight years now. As a nurse practitioner in the Lance Armstrong Foundation Adult Survivorship Clinic at Dana-Farber, Boyajian has devoted his career to providing care and direction to other cancer survivors.
John Brooks believes, without a doubt, that had it not been for the experimental drugs used in his clinical trials, as well as his faith, the loving support of his wife, family and friends, and their commitment to speak up, he would not be alive today.
Carol Midey "felt unglued" when her 16-year-old son was diagnosed with testicular cancer. But Michael has since received a clean bill of health and the Midey family has learned that they are surrounded by such love and support that no matter what life hands them, they will always survive.
From the window of his laboratory at Dana-Farber, Wayne Marasco, MD, PhD, has a full view of the floors occupied by pediatric cancer patients at Boston Children's Hospital. This daily reminder of the importance of his work uncovering the mysteries of cancer and AIDS took on added meaning in July 2001, when he found himself gazing directly into a room occupied by his 4-year-old daughter, Madison.
When Larry Lucchino came on board as the new president and CEO of the Boston Red Sox in 2002, he was already well aware of the special relationship between the baseball team and its official charity: the Jimmy Fund of Dana-Farber. During 1985-86, while serving as vice president/general counsel for the Baltimore Orioles baseball club, Lucchino was treated at the Institute for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
As an experienced nurse, Patti Branowicki knew about the physical and emotional turmoil that cancer inflicts on patients. What she didn't know was what it actually felt like to have the disease. That all changed last winter, however, when she was diagnosed with Stage III ovarian cancer.
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