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  • Extending Aromatase Inhibitor Treatment Time

    Posted 1/10/2018 by hhill

      First a reminder: After this posting, I will not be back on this blog until January 29th. I will try then to include a picture from our Antarctica adventure. I am very excited and a bit nervous about the Drake Passage crossing.Per my entry earlier this week, however, I am filled with determination to see as much of this gorgeous world as possible, and this very southern part is said to be other-worldly beautiful.

      Today, still based in Boston, I am writing about new studies related to the optimal length of time for women with ER positive breast cancers to stay on AIs (aromatase inhibitors). As you may know, the original  treatment was five years after completing chemotherapy or other initial breast cancer treatment. Since it had been learned that continuing Tamoxifen for a total of ten years, rather than the original five, reduced the recurrence and death rates, the question was whether something similar would be found with extending the duration of AI treatment.

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  • Donating Biospecimens

    Posted 1/9/2018 by hhill

      If you have seen my last two postings, you are aware that I am doing "doubles" yesterday and today in order to meet the week's quota. Read the earlier today blog, Climb Every Mountain, for more information (if you care). This one is very different and discusses the possibility of donating biospecimens (blood or tissue) for research.

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  • Climb Every Mountain

    Posted 1/9/2018 by hhill

      This entry is about dreams and living big and advances in cancer medicine--all neatly combined in an essay from The New York Times. The specifics are a man with a three year history of Stage IV lung cancer continuing to climb mountains. Absolutely remarkable.

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  • A Possible Explanation for Alcohol Increasing Cancer Risk

    Posted 1/8/2018 by hhill

        This is an extra posting today as I will be leaving the country on Thursday and am trying to fulfill the week's quote of five before getting on the plane. More about that tomorrow.

      This is one depressing study. As reported in EurekAlert Science, scientists in the UK have found that alcohol can damage our DNA, possibly rearrange chromosomes, and generally crate havoc in our cells. Even non-scientists like me can understand that this can't be good.

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  • New Book with Dark Cancer Humor

    Posted 1/8/2018 by hhill

      It is a pleasure to start the week with a posting about a terrific new book: Laughter is the Best Medicine by Alice Ruby Meltzer. Ms. Meltzer died of breast cancer in July 2016, and her daughter, Nina, created the book from illustrations and comments that her mother had completed.

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  • Video about Managing Side Effects

    Posted 1/5/2018 by hhill

      Today's blog is really to share a resource to share. There is a lot of written information about managing chemotherapy side effects, but this is the first video that I have seen. Personally, I prefer to read than to watch/listen, but I know we have different preferences, and this is quite good.

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  • Lifestyle Choices may Reduce Cancer Death Rates

    Posted 1/4/2018 by hhill

      Before I read this article, I was irritated by the title. Was this going to be another of those ridiculous stories that suggest that if we eat right, get enough sleep and manage our stress, we will live to be a healthy 100? Or, worse, was it going to promise that daily helpings of sea weed and mega vitamins will keep cancer away? (and that sentence reminds me of a beloved colleague and friend, Roger Lange, who died of multiple myeloma a few years ago. Roger was a superb physician and a clear thinker who scoffed at all of the kinds of recommendations that I just wrote about. When pressed by his patients who asked about special diets or supplements, he smiled and told them to eat lots of broccoli. Note that it did him no good. It is all about biology.) 

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  • FDA and Homeopathic Medicines

    Posted 1/3/2018 by hhill

      Hopefully this is news that we all all appreciate. Different people have very different views of the value/importance of CAM (complementary and alternative therapies) and homeopathic medicines and other non-traditional approaches. When dealing with cancer, all of us are determined to do everything that we can to promote good health and healing, and some of us may well choose to include non-western approaches.

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  • Decisions

    Posted 1/2/2018 by hhill

      I have written before about the complexity and difficulty of making treatment decisions. None of us are truly fully informed, and we tend to be in a state of at least some anxiety when faced with these choices, and it can feel that we are not given enough information or direction. There were some advantages to the old days when doctors just told us what to do (please don't read that as a wish to return to that system).

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  • Mangement of Hot Flashes

    Posted 1/1/2018 by hhill

      First, wishing you all a Healthy and Happy New Year. I hope that you have had a lovely holiday season and suspect, like me, that you are ready to return to a more regular routine. Today is our anniversary, so we have one more (quiet) celebration to go. When we chose to be married on New Year's Day, we didn't think about the fact that we would have a holiday each year--a real bonus.

      As the arctic freeze continues, seemingly endlessly, in New England, an entry about the management of treatment-related hot flashes seems welcome. Many women, even those who have already gone through a natural menopause, experience hot flashes with the initiation of hormone/anti-estrogen treatments--meaning tamoxifen and the AIs. Some men being treated for prostate cancer have a similar experience, and it is even more disconcerting for them. For most people, bodies gradually adjust, and the problem diminishes. For a while, however, it can be difficult.

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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.