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Dr. Susan Love

Research Worth Watching: Epigenetics and Breast Cancer

Better scientific tools have allowed researchers to learn more about inherited genetic mutations that increase risk or mutations that develop inside of the cancer cell that help fuel its growth. Breast cancer happens to have good examples of both kinds of mutations. Mutations in the genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2 can be inherited (passed on) through the mother or the father. The BRCA genetic mutations increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women, and breast and prostate cancer in men.

Numb Toes and Other Woes!

As we have noted over the past year, the collateral damage from treatment is often understudied. This is particularly true for peripheral neuropathy the numb toes, painful feet, and feeling of pins and needles in the fingers. It is really amazing that so little research has been done on neuropathy considering that it is estimated that between 20% and 50% of women treated for breast cancer will experience this painful long-term side effect.

Don't Call Me a Survivor

Now almost a year from my bone marrow transplant I feel the need to vent about the fact that we call people who have been given a diagnosis of cancer, survivors.  I was never that comfortable with the term before and am now even less so.  I think the term probably came from the days when a diagnosis of cancer was an immediate death sentence.  Having escaped that fate, much like getting through a hurricane or tsunami, meant that you were a survivor.

Wouldn't It Have Been Better Not To Get Cancer In The First Place?

June 8th marked a year since my diagnosis with leukemia.  I have experienced a lot in the past year, physically, mentally and spiritually.  My biggest surprise has been a more personal understanding of the permanent side effects of treatment.  Sure, I had heard of chemobrain and believed it to be real, but now I know what having chemobrain feels like and how it affects my daily life.  Numb toes and neuropathy may be a small price to pay for being here, alive and kicking, but it is a constant reminder of what I have been through.

Fertility and Breast Cancer Treatment—It’s Complicated

One of the aspects of cancer treatment I have become intimately aware of since my own experience with leukemia, is the collateral damage of all of the treatments patients undergo. Second cancers, heart disease, neuropathy and leukemia are often mentioned the most, but there is another pressing issue that often gets less attention: infertility. Not that long ago, most women had their children in their twenties.