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  • Oncology Nurses

    Posted 5/26/2017 by hhill

      Cancer care could not exist without oncology nurses. There are experienced, skilled, wonderful nurses who work for years, sometimes for decades, on in-patient oncology floors, and there are equally terrific nurses who stay just as long in the ambulatory areas. Since I work in the ambulatory/out patient world, those are the nurses whom I know best.

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  • Science and truth

    Posted 5/24/2017 by hhill

      Since I will be traveling most of tomorrow, I am posting this tonight. This is, I think, an important and interesting article from the New England Journal of Medicine about science. Living in this world that suddenly is shaken by the suggestion of alternative facts or truths, science should remain a bedrock. What is true in science or math is true. It is not about opinions; it is about facts.

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  • Divorce and Cancer

    Posted 5/24/2017 by hhill

      It may or may not surprise you that the divorce rate for couples going through or shortly after cancer is about the same as the national average--unless the woman is the cancer patient. The
    overall divorce rate for cancer patients is about 11.6 percent, similar to the risk for the population as a
    whole. However, if the cancer patient is a woman, a 2009 study in the journal Cancer, she is six times more likely to suffer divorce during cancer than a male patient

      There are lots of ways to jump to conclusions about this, but I suspect it is way more layered and complicated than just guessing that men are less good caretakers or less willing to stick around a sick spouse.

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  • Fear

    Posted 5/23/2017 by hhill

      Fear or anxiety or panic inevitably is sometimes part of living with cancer. Whether it is the temporary distress before a scan or another procedure or more pervasive anxiety about pain or managing treatment or the heart-stopping panic that may accompany thoughts of death, these feelings come to us all. The trick, pretty hard to manage, becomes finding a way to manage or, at least; live with them without being paralyzed.

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  • Longer Sleep and Higher Risk

    Posted 5/22/2017 by hhill

      Sometimes a newly released study makes no sense to me. This is one of them, but I am intrigued, so am sharing it with you. A recent report in the British Journal of Cancer suggests that: Compared to women sleeping eight hours a night, women who slept at least nine hours were 46 percent more likely to
    die of breast cancer, the study found. After up to 30 years of follow-up, the women who got more sleep were also 34 percent more likely to die of other causes.

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  • Helpful Site re Sexuality

    Posted 5/19/2017 by hhill

      Very honestly, I can't remember if I have written before about this very helpful website:

      I am on their mailing list and just received an email with some good information and links, and that reminded me to remind you about it. As we know, sexuality and intimacy are never improved by a cancer diagnosis and treatment and, instead, are usually harmed or damaged. During active treatment, it is close to impossible to feel one's most beautiful or handsome or sexy or desirable. Unfortunately those feelings sometimes persist long after treatment ends. Like many problems, the longer it goes unspoken, the more difficult it becomes.

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  • ASCO Preview

    Posted 5/18/2017 by hhill

      As you may know, the annual ASCO (American Association of Clinical Oncology) meeting will be in Chicago from June 2-6. This is the world's biggest cancer meeting; literally tens of thousands of doctors,scientists, industry people, advocates, journalists, etc. attend. There is always breaking news, and occasionally there is game-changing news.

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  • The Infusion Area

    Posted 5/17/2017 by hhill

      For virtually all new cancer patients, the first step into the Infusion Area/AKA The Chemo Room is pretty scary. You don't have any idea what to expect and everyone is anxious about the first chemo treatment. Will it hurt? Will the nurse be kind? How sick am I going to be? And, of course, is this going to work?

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  • Genetic Counseling

    Posted 5/16/2017 by hhill

      As the science has exploded, the role of genetic counseling in cancer care has also grown. It was not long ago that genetic counseling for cancer patients really meant testing for the BRCA genes that raise a woman's chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer. There are now many more identifiable genes, and much more that can be learned. The question hovers, however: what can be done with the information and when is it helpful to know?

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  • Information about Reconstruction

    Posted 5/15/2017 by hhill

      This study from JAMA Surgery, as reported by BreastCancer.Org, does not surprise me at all. Yes, it is unclear how widely this single study can be understood to apply. The numbers are small, and all of the surveyed women were treated at a single hospital in North Carolina. Could the results be very different at other institutions, in other parts of the country? Of course. However, without ever doing a study, I would guess that our numbers are not so different, and I have strong suspicious that would be true just about everywhere.

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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.