Category Archives: Blog

Why is this Cancer Patient Smiling?

Over the past year I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with the Massachusetts General Hospital BOTSOGO program, a collaboration with the government of Botswana to launch a cancer treatment center in the southern African nation. Dr Memory Bvochora, who runs the only radiation therapy facility in Botswana, treats both uninsured (“public”) and insured (“private”) patients who need radiation therapy for their cancer. (more…)

Is Excessive Texting Bad For Your Health?

My husband’s elegant and dignified grandmother always sat and stood ram-rod straight. Nana never suffered a broken bone or missed a conversation.  Her posture was often envied for its beauty, but now there is even more evidence that good posture is healthy for you, too. (more…)

Think Twice – No, Thrice – Before Getting that Tattoo

One of the most difficult aspects of the preparation and planning of new patients for radiation treatments is giving them their “tattoos.” I tell them that we have to make a few tiny permanent markings on their skin with India ink that will help guide the setup for the precise delivery of treatment each day. I assure them that the marks will be very tiny, and noticeable only to those who know how to look for them. While some women view the marks as a badge of honor or a sign of solidarity with the breast cancer sisterhood, most women are quite fearful at the thought of being “marked for life.” (more…)

Tanning and Skin Cancer

Teen girl seating at a beach under umbrellaNow that the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are finally upon us, it’s a good time to think about a topic on which there has been a lot of recent news and information lately: skin cancer prevention.

Now, I don’t want to be a killjoy. Getting outside and taking advantage of all of the wonderful activities that summer presents is (more…)

Chewing Tobacco is NOT a Healthy Alternative to Smoking

snuffAh, the sounds of summer: the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd…the “pffft” of the tobacco juice?

The passing last week of major league baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn reminds us that even a seemingly innocuous ritual—one that starts on a baseball field, no less—can have an unfortunate ending. Gwynn died of salivary (mouth) cancer that he was certain was caused by dip, or chewing tobacco, a habit he maintained during the 20 years he played for the San Diego Padres. (more…)

The Importance of Exercise During Breast Cancer Treatment

Women receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer have a lot to do. They must arrange doctor visits, eat a healthy diet, take vitamins, drink enough water, and arrange time off from work.

One activity that is often overlooked, however, is exercise. Maintaining a healthy level of physical activity after breast cancer surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation should be a serious topic of discussion between doctor and patient for all women diagnosed or undergoing treatment. I encourage my radiation oncology patients to keep up their exercise regimens as long as they have the energy and their skin is intact. (more…)

Tips for Receiving an Effective Mammogram

Nurse Assisting Patient About To Have A MammogramFor most women, making the appointment for a yearly mammogram is about as fun as scheduling a root canal or septic system cleaning. The yearly diagnostic test, which should begin at age 40 (or earlier, depending on your history and the advice of your primary care physician), takes time out of your day and is often uncomfortable and unpleasant. And, if you’re like most women, once you have the test done you can look forward to at least 24 hours of anxiety waiting for results. (more…)

Lucky Seven: Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer

number7This year, almost 240,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and close to 40,000 will die of the disease. One out of every eight women will develop the disease in her lifetime.

Pretty scary statistics, but it also means that seven out of every eight women won’t get breast cancer. (more…)

My Mom, My Muse

As the daughter of a medical oncologist, I grew up in a household where breast cancer was discussed at the dinner table, especially when my great grandmother, grandmother, and mother – all breast cancer survivors – were together. My dad would entertain us with reports of the latest research and of drugs that were going to revolutionize treatments.

About 20 years ago, when my mother was 49, she found a lump in her right breast.   I was in my last year of medical school, and about to make a decision about where to go for my internship. To become a Gynecological Oncologist, I would first finish a 4-year residency (more…)

Healthy at Every Age

We have all heard the message that early detection saves lives. Research shows that getting screened regularly for conditions like breast, cervical, colorectal and lung cancer significantly reduces deaths from that cancer. Finding an early cancer or pre-cancerous lesion in a person without symptoms who feels absolutely healthy dramatically increases survival rates. Smaller tumors are easier to treat and are less likely to metastasize (spread). The message here is know your body and don’t be afraid to discuss changes that seem to “come out of the blue.”

However, many people aren’t clear about when to start screenings and/or how often to get them done. To help, I’ve put together the list below, organized by age group. (more…)

Heat, Crowds and Helping One Another

Last Monday, I ran the Boston Marathon. Despite having run the race many times, the anticipation I feel at the starting line – of the supporters who will be cheering from the sidelines, the camaraderie of the other runners, and the satisfaction of crossing the finish line in what I hoped would be less than four hours – never seems to diminish.

A year ago, due to a missed flight that stranded me in Chicago on a business trip, I never made it to the race. I later came to the numbing conclusion that I would have been crossing the finish line at just about the time the bomb went off.  I was determined that nothing would keep me away this year. (more…)

Be Smart and Check Yourself

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, so we are thrilled to share with you a guest blog from Brian Harrington. Brian was a newly married, 30-year-old physical education teacher and fitness professional living in the New York City area with everything going for him. Then, one day, something was wrong. Read his story, and learn why it’s so important for young men to check themselves regularly for this frightening yet, if caught early , highly treatable form of cancer. (more…)

Beware of Supplements Bearing False Claims

beforeafterIt’s virtually impossible these days to avoid the sections of magazines that contain advertising of “nutritional” supplements.  It’s hard to resist the before and after photos of the woman who goes from a size 12 to a size 2 in 6 weeks with some magic pill or powder.  Or the photos – supposedly unretouched – of men who go from 98-lb. Weakling to Mr. Universe in time for beach season. (more…)

FAQ: What is “Safe” to Use on Sensitive Skin?

skincarelargeThough I’m not a dermatologist, it seems that every day I’m asked questions about skin care by patients, customers, colleagues and friends.

They boil down to the following most Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What can I use when my 6 weeks of radiation are all over?
  2. How can I get that healthy look I can only describe as “pregnancy glow?”
  3. What do I do for ultra dry skin—for example the dry flaking “snake like” skin that resulted from having a cast on a limb for a month?
  4. What is safe to use after surgery?  Can I rub cream near my scar?
  5. What is safe to use during pregnancy?
  6. What is safe for kids with delicate skin? (more…)

Can Facebook Cure Cancer?

facebookthumbsupmedicineI’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much time people spend on Facebook. Much of it is to share photos of the happy events in their lives.  When a new baby is born or your child takes his first steps, it’s wonderful to share these moments with friends far across the country or maybe even on another continent.

Increasingly, people harness all of this friend power to rally around and solve a problem. A few years ago a teen in my neighborhood went missing. Posts that went up (more…)

Concussions and Youth Sports

As mothers, grandmothers, aunts and friends of children who play sports, we have first-hand knowledge that physical injuries have become increasingly common. I’m not talking about the broken bone from falling off a bicycle, or the sprained ankle from an informal game of kickball in the backyard. These are a normal part of growing up, and have been occurring for a hundred years. (more…)

Women Abusing Alcohol: A Growing Problem

womandrinkingwineThis past Monday one of my normally upbeat and outgoing patients, whom I’ll call Jill, burst into tears when I asked about her weekend. On Friday night, while driving to pick up her daughter from a school activity, she was stopped by police at a sobriety checkpoint in her town. She’d had two glasses of red wine that evening, and her blood alcohol level was over the legal limit. She was issued a summons and had to call her husband to come and get her. The whole experience, she said, was beyond mortifying. (more…)

BFFL Co Debuts Women’s Wellness Column on EverydayHealth.com

everydayhealthWe are thrilled to announce our collaboration with leading online publication EverydayHealth.com, where we will be posting articles and blogs containing timely information on health and wellness issues relating to women and families.

Our goal is to distill information relevant to women’s wellness from the headlines and medical journals, so that readers can make better and more proactive decisions regarding their own health and lead happier, more empowered lives. (more…)

Can You Really Afford to $moke?

costofsmokingEveryone understands the health dangers of smoking, both for smokers and those breathing secondary smoke. Smoking is linked to lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke, and has ill effects on virtually every organ in the body.

Few smokers, however, seem to realize just how detrimental it is to their wallet.

Here are the economics: a pack per day habit can cost a smoker in an urban area like New York over $5,300 per year. That’s more than 10% of the median U.S.  household income —  incredibly hard to justify. It’s recommended that people spend 25% of their income on housing.  Would you rather smoke or have a nicer place to live? (more…)

Behind the Wheel? Lose the Phone.

DontDietoReplyThere are Mothers Against Drunk Driving. There should also be Mothers Against Distracted Driving.

Using cell phones or smart phones behind the wheel, or “driving while intexticated,” results in the death of 11 teens each day in the US, according to the Institute of Highway Safety. Almost a quarter of all car accidents, or a total of 1.3 million crashes last year, involved cell phone use.

Though none of my kids yet drive, they will be driving soon, and I’m terrified at what I see happening on the roads. When a light turns green, the cars don’t even budge  – because drivers are all looking at their smartphones. (more…)

Prostate Cancer Screening and Treatment Options Topic of Fox News Segment

FoxMarketsNowimageProstate cancer screening and treatment options were the key topics discussed during a recent appearance on Fox Business News by BFFL Co CEO Dr. Elizabeth Chabner Thompson.

Dr. Thompson talked to Markets Now anchors Dagen McDowell and Connell McShane about the need to increase men’s awareness of prostate cancer treatment options, including new developments in the areas of molecular profiling and hormonal therapy. Many physicians are customizing treatments to optimize outcome and minimize side effects. She also discussed the fact that men are often reluctant to talk about their concerns, particularly regarding side effects like incontinence and impotence. Click here to watch the segment.