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  • The Beginnings of Cancer

    Posted 7/28/2015 by hhill

      Since I will be traveling much of tomorrow, I am doing tomorrow's blog approximately twelve hours early. This is a fascinating piece from the New York Times about the very beginnings of cancer. When I wrote about statistics a few days ago, I admitted not having a great math record, and, sadly, that is also true of science. The older I have become, the more fascinated I have become by the natural world and science and sometimes wish that this particular spark had been lit in high school. 

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  • Drug Costs

    Posted 7/28/2015 by hhill

      It is important to remember that the uproar over drug costs does not only apply to cancer drugs. As increasing numbers of specifically targeted drugs receive FDA approval and come to the market, there are increasing numbers of drugs that cost more than $100,000 for a year. Even someone with "good" insurance can easily end up being responsible for $20,000-$30,000 of that expense. That kind of money is impossible for many people and extremely difficult for many others. That kind of money is the equivalent of a mortgage or college tuition or lots of groceries and heating oil.

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  • Thinking about Statistics

    Posted 7/27/2015 by hhill

      I was never a math person, and that has changed only minimally as I have gone on with life. I have learned that I am smart enough to figure almost anything out, and I suspect that a different culture (meaning one that was more supportive and positive about women in math and the sciences) would have made a difference to me in high school. But the fact remains that I would surely fail the geometry part of the SAT if I took it now (and an interesting aside: a journalist friend wrote an article about this some years ago. In preparation for his essay, he studied for the SATs and then retook the test in his early 50s. He did almost exactly the same as he had at age 17.) This is relevant, or slightly relevant, as we consider cancer statistics. (and I did well in statistics in college)

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  • Rethinking End of Life Chemotherapy

    Posted 7/24/2015 by hhill

      This is a truly fascinating and thought-provoking and distressing study from JAMA Oncology that may, over the long run, turn out to be a game changer in oncology care. The article that I will share is from the New York Times, but it was widely reported yesterday. My husband was interviewed as part of an NPR story, and I can promise you that he is intrigued and unsure how to think about this. He makes the very good point that cancer science is increasingly sophisticated and able to identify genetic targets that may make some very ill patients much more likely to respond to treatment--perhaps buying them months of "good" time. But I am getting ahead of myself 

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  • Survivors Guilt

    Posted 7/23/2015 by hhill

      Survivor's Guilt is a common, very uncomfortable feeling--and a complete waste of time and energy. I hear some version of this reaction almost every day. In groups, women who have had "less" cancer (meaning an earlier stage and less needed treatment) can too easily feel guilty about complaining to women who have endured much more. Even in my group for women with advanced cancer, someone who has "only" bone mets can feel strangely lucky in comparison to someone who is going through treatment for brain mets. Survivor's Guilt clearly applies at all levels of the cancer experience.

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-1900


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