Category Archives: Blog

Ebola Is in the News, but the Flu is Just around the Corner

Ebola has been the lead story in the news lately, and our hearts go out both to those who are bravely battling the virus and to the heroic health care workers who are putting themselves in harm’s way to care for them. Earlier this month the Center for Disease Control (CDC ), in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO), estimated that over 10,000 people in West Africa have contracted Ebola since the epidemic began early this year, and almost half of them have died. Thankfully, there is news that new cases of the virus in Liberia have declined. (more…)

Did You Know? 31 Facts About Breasts

31FactsimageLast year during Breast Cancer Awareness month, our list of 31 Facts About Breasts was a big hit.

Here it is again, with some updates for 2014.

Enjoy!

Now That You’ve Finished Treatment, Take the Lead and…Follow(-Up)!

Doctor with female patientOne of my favorite patients is a lovely Bostonian transplant to New York, a woman who has been cured of her early stage breast cancer but who worries about her health—from her lipid levels to her not-so perfect bladder suspension 30 years ago. When she comes in (more…)

What To Expect When You’re Having a Mastectomy

GuideToMastectomyAre you, or is someone close to you, having a mastectomy in the near future?

We developed The BFFL Co Guide to Mastectomy to help women and their families through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.

It remains one of the most popular pages on the BFFL Co website.

Please pass this valuable link along to your friends and family members!

 

 

Cravings: Not Just for Expectant Moms

picklesWe get mail on a variety of topics from our loyal Best Friends For Life community. Particularly fascinating, however, have been your reports about cravings.

Though cravings are most often associated with pregnant women (the old “pickles and ice cream” cliché), many people undergoing treatment for cancer and other conditions also experience the seemingly insatiable need to consume a particular food or drink. (more…)

Cancer Clouds Forming? Look for the Silver Lining

Masthead logoI have always been fascinated by the symbol of a Masthead—a strong female figure, head held high, chest thrust forward, perched at the bow of a ship to guide her fellow sailors through an unfamiliar and stormy sea as they speed toward their destination. The symbol is powerful yet non-threatening. It’s aggressive, but in a positive way. (more…)

Will Colonoscopy Soon Be Obsolete?

The mere mention of the world “colonoscopy” sends me into a cold sweat. I have had only one of these screening tests used to find abnormalities inside the colon, and it’s going to take an awful lot to get me to submit to another one in five years.

The test itself is a breeze. The gastroenterologist inserts a tiny tube carrying a microscopic camera through the anal opening and sends it along the entire length of the colon, looking for inflammation, polyps, tumors or other problems that might indicate colorectal cancers and other diseases. (more…)

Breast Cancer: A Family Affair

motherdaughter2Should women under 40 worry about breast cancer?

The National Cancer Institute puts the risk of developing breast cancer earlier than age 40 at less than 2 percent. For certain women with genetic predispositions, however, like those who test positive for a BRCA gene mutation, the risk is much higher. (more…)

3D Mammography Allows Earlier Detection of Smaller Breast Tumors

Over the past couple of years there have been some significant developments in the area of breast cancer screening.

One of the new terms we hear quite frequently is “3D Mammography.” Many women are wondering what it is, and whether or not it’s better than its two-dimensional predecessor. (more…)

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…)