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  • Healthy Diet

    Posted 10/19/2017 by hhill

      I am a bit reluctant to wade into this discussion as there is such fervor about cancer and diets and virtually no solid data or information. You can't begin an online search or walk past a magazine stand without encountering headlines about particular foods/diets and cancer risk or even a "cancer prevention diet". Especially during October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am giving many talks, and I always spend a few minutes debunking some of the common myths. Sugar does not cause or feed cancer. Same for dairy.

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  • Technology to Reduce Breast Biopsies

    Posted 10/18/2017 by hhill

      As we all know, annual mammograms and, when appropriate, breast MRIs identify many early breast cancer and have saved many lives. One difficulty is that they also lead to more breast biopsies and (the good news!), many of them are not malignant. I suspect that virtually all women would consider a biopsy, later found to have been unnecessary, a fair price to pay to eliminate the possibility of an early cancer. Looked at, however, from the broader public health perspective and from the vantage point of someone who does experience real difficulties from the surgery, it maybe was a less good bargain.

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  • Fighting or Not

    Posted 10/17/2017 by hhill

      This is a continuation of an earlier conversation about fighting cancer and what does that mean and is it always the right response and what kinds of messages are we giving one another. Stimulated originally by John McCain's diagnosis and the immediate outpouring of both support and exhortations to FIGHT, the discussion has continued.

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  • Trying to Organize Cancer Finances

    Posted 10/16/2017 by hhill

      Given that we live in an increasingly digital world, it is rather surprising how much paper accompanies cancer. I am thinking not of the papers we are given at appointments, those lists of medications or appointments. No, I am thinking about the flood of bills and statements and other things related to cancer finances that come through our mailboxes. Weekly, I hear people comment about the piles of paper they have on their dining tables or kitchen counters.

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  • Help in a Crisis

    Posted 10/13/2017 by hhill

      It is easier to know what to do in a medical emergency: Call 911 if it is really bad or head for the nearest ER if slightly less critical. If it is "just" a problem, you have the 24/7 telephone number for an oncologist on call. But what do you do if you are experiencing an emotional crisis? Again, the advice is to head for the nearest ER if you feel at risk of hurting yourself or someone else (although, admittedly, if you are this distraught, it is tough to take this advice). One hopes, in that situation, that someone else is around and can take control and get you where you need to be. There are suicide/crisis hotlines, but much more often the crisis is not life-threatening. For cancer patients, it is more likely to be high anxiety about health or the future or deep sadness or worry about others whom we love.

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Cancer Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

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About the Blogger

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C is the Manager of Oncology Social Work at BIDMC. For more than thirty years, her daily work at BIDMC has been primarily focused on supporting women with breast cancer. A nationally known writer and speaker, she was the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation's first Hatcher Survivorship Professor. In 1993, and again in 2005, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through the standard treatments of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and hormonal therapy. These experiences have given her great credibility with her patients and transformed her life's work to her life. Ms. Schnipper lives gratefully with her husband in an ancient farmhouse outside of Boston and spends as much time as possible in a water front cottage on Mt Desert Island. Between them, they have five adult children and seven grandchildren; she claims biological responsibility for two and three of them.