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  • Belly Dancing as a Recovery Strategy

    Posted 2/22/2017 by hhill

      There are probably as many ways to recover from cancer as there are people trying to do so. Some slam the door shut behind them and work hard at just picking up life where they left it. Others feel that their pre-cancer life has been shattered, and that it must be rebuilt brick by brick. Most of us are somewhere in between and look for ways to feel physically and emotionally healthy and strong.

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  • When Your Oncologist Fires You

    Posted 2/21/2017 by hhill

      When your oncologist says something like: "I don't really need to see you anymore", it can feel as though you are being fired. Some people, of course, are delighted and hope never to again see this doctor, no matter how respected and beloved. Others feel that a major life vest has been removed and that the world feels shakier. As far as I know, there are no standard rules about this situation, and different doctors, different institutions and practices handle it in a variety of ways.

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  • Living in the Moment or Maintenance Mode

    Posted 2/20/2017 by hhill

      Both of the title phrases come from Susan Gubar's column that I will shortly share. As many of you know, she is a wonderful writer who frequently contributes to The New York Times about her life with recurrent ovarian cancer. This essay describes the new territory that she and many others are exploring: not really well, but certainly not really dying...

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  • Scanxiety

    Posted 2/17/2017 by hhill

      Scanxiety, although it may not be in the dictionary, is a real thing. We all know about it. The process itself isn't pleasant with likely needlesticks and possible GI upset after drinking the pre CT scan milkshake. No one enjoys the tight quarters of an MRI, and the special diet before a PET scan is difficult for some. But it's not these things nor the waits in a hospital johnny or conversations with the techs that are so hard. It is anxiety about the results.

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  • Expense and Hype and Uncertain Value

    Posted 2/16/2017 by hhill

      The title pretty much sums up one of the real problems in health care today. Our focus is cancer and cancer drugs, but the same issues apply for many other worrisome medical conditions--or even for some things that are less serious but worry people.

      This issue comes up almost daily in my work as I talk with people who have advanced cancer, have discussed a potential new drug therapy with their doctor, and are very distressed re how to proceed. The upset is, of course, primarily due to the overall situation of having advanced disease, but it is really upsetting to believe that a particular medication might help and then discover that the cost/co-pay/co-insurance/deductible is going to be thousands of dollars a month and that there is no certainty that it really will help.

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


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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.