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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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  • Weight Gain

    Posted 7/22/2015 by hhill

      Weight gain from cancer treatment is a dirty little secret. Most people imagine that weight loss would accompany chemotherapy, and that is sometimes true--but often is not. There are a lot of suspected reasons, and it likely is a complicated combination: nibbling more and taking in additional calories as one usually feels better with something in the stomach (or, to be clear, you feel worse if your stomach is empty), reduced exercise, and a change in metabolism.

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  • Major Financial Stresses of Cancer Treatment

    Posted 7/21/2015 by hhill

      Cancer is expensive. Almost everyone experiences some financial stress related to cancer treatment, and some people have terrible problems. The issues can range from higher expenses for childcare or uncovered medical costs (deductibles, co-pays, etc.) or gas to get to appointments to declaring bankruptcy due to overwhelming problems. What I had not heard before reading this is that there is a positive association between filing for bankruptcy and mortality risk. Wow.

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

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