For one prostate cancer survivor, it’s all about conversation, personal connections

Francis Hafler, surrounded by his daughter Tiffany, son Gabriel and granddaughter Chloe, 12

Francis Hafler, surrounded by his daughter Tiffany, son Gabriel and granddaughter Chloe, 12

“I’m a conversationalist. I just walk up to people and start talking to them,” says Francis Hafler of Detroit.

He starts at the beginning. “I was born in the south in 1950.”

Hafler grew up about two blocks from the water in Pensacola, Fla., where the sand is pure white and the water is emerald green. He was No. 8 of 10 kids – seven boys, three girls. His mother did domestic work and his father worked on a fishing boat and as an ice man. Every Tuesday and Wednesday you could see the Blue Angels from the nearby naval base soaring through the sky.

In 1969, Hafler moved to Michigan to live with a friend. He found work at Ford Motor Co. on the ore carrying ships at the Rouge Factory. He got married and had six kids.

And then cancer hit.

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HPV vaccine and cervical cancer: Is this the new magic bullet?

cervical cancer and HPVOne of the most recommended screenings is for cervical cancer. Most cervical cancers are caused by the sexually transmitted infection human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV immunization could reduce the impact of cervical cancer worldwide by as much as two-thirds, if all adolescent and adult women were to get the vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (CDC), there is no evidence to suggest that HPV vaccine loses the ability to provide protection over time.

Currently there are two vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, that prevent infection from HPV, the most common cause of cervical cancer. Gardasil and Cervarix both are highly effective in preventing infection with the types of HPV they target. Gardasil targets the two HPV types that cause 90% of genital warts and it is used to prevent cancers and precancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and anus. Cervarix is used for the prevention of cervical cancer and precancers.

The CDC recommends that all women age 26 years and younger receive three doses of the HPV vaccine (Cervarix or Continue reading

Not just a feel-good practice: Benefits of yoga to people with cancer

yoga and cancerOver the past years increased attention has been given to the benefits of yoga during and after cancer treatment. Just this April, the Journal of Clinical Oncology published yet another astounding article about how yoga has not only an emotional impact on people affected by cancer but a physical one as well (Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2014).

The practice of yoga during cancer treatment has been shown to assist with unwanted physical side effects, in particular fatigue and insomnia. This is of particular value since there is little medical intervention available as yet to assist with Continue reading

It’s not just girl talk: Including men in breast cancer genetic counseling

men and breast cancer genetic counselingThere is no question that breast cancer disproportionately affects women – but we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the risk to men. As we continue to learn more about the ways our genes influence our cancer risk, involvement of male relatives in genetic counseling and genetic testing can provide important information for your family’s breast cancer risk evaluation. So why are men often forgotten?

Myth One: Men don’t carry mutations in breast cancer genes.

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Do women have access to breast reconstruction?

Doctor holding X-ray film and woman in pink braFewer than half of women who undergo mastectomy for breast cancer have breast reconstruction. A new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center finds 42% of women who were surveyed had breast reconstruction.

The study, published in JAMA Surgery, looked at 485 women treated with mastectomy for breast cancer, following up with them an average of four years after their diagnosis.

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Listening to her dad never felt so good: a metaplastic breast cancer survivor’s story

Renee Javonsky with her parents and kids.

Renee Javonsky with her parents and kids.

Renee Janovsky never expected her mammogram to reveal breast cancer. After all, she was simply establishing a baseline at age 40. Instead, in September 2006, following an initial biopsy and tumor review, the diagnosis revealed triple negative metaplastic breast cancer, stage 1 with a high grade – a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. She was referred to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center by her father, Adrian Kramer. He was treated there previously and he insisted that she be treated at U-M.

“At the time, my children were two and four years old, so I had way more life ahead of me. I listened to my dad and went to Ann Arbor,” says Renee.

Lisa Newman, M.D., M.P.H., director of the U-M Breast Care Center, met with Renee, her husband and parents. Renee was immediately put at ease with her knowledge and manner of presenting information. Ten days later, Renee had a lumpectomy.

“Dr. Newman explained that because little was known about tumors that were both triple negative and metaplastic, there was no defined treatment protocol. She recommended Continue reading