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  • End Stage Chemotherapy

    Posted 8/3/2015 by hhill

      This title, End Stage Chemotherapy, seems like an oxymoron or at least feels odd. Isn't chemotherapy, at its most effective, hoped to be curative and, whenever given, hoped to reduce or slow tumor growth and extend life? I would have thought the answer was "yes", but chemo is sometimes given either in palliation (and that would be in the hopes of reducing symptoms--e.g. shrinking lung tumors so that someone can breathe more easily) or as a very last ditch effort to slow down, in Anne Sexton's words, the awful rowing toward God.

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  • Another Reason for Memory Problems

    Posted 7/31/2015 by hhill

      Memory problems, often blamed on chemobrain or cancer stress, are a frequent topic of conversation in my office. As I have said many times before, most people don't experience this as a major lasting issue, although many people feel blunted and less mentally sharp during treatment. It is easy and pretty obvious to blame that on fatigue and stress and anxiety and lots of medications. Once treatment is done, almost everyone gets back to baseline fairly quickly. The lasting issues, the "why did I come into the kitchen?" thoughts, are generally normal human experiences.

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  • Preparing for Chemotherapy

    Posted 7/30/2015 by hhill

      I have met this week with several women who are anticipating starting chemotherapy, for the first time, in the next few weeks. As we all remember,this is a very scary time, and everyone wonders about ways to prepare. In all honesty, there really isn't much that needs to be done other than eating a normal/light breakfast or lunch on that first treatment day and showing up on time.

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

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