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  • Pre existing Conditions

    Posted 4/24/2017 by hhill

      First, yes I know that it should be pre-existing conditions with a hyphen, but this system does not allow any punctuation in the title of a blog.

      All of us with cancer know about pre-existing conditions and surely know that we have a big one. One of the biggest advantages of the ACA/Obama Care has been the requirement that insurance companies sell coverage to people who have a pre-existing condition. This has been a promise for us, and many others, that we won't be shut out of the market.

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  • The Cost of Cancer

    Posted 4/21/2017 by hhill

      This is a very complicated and important topic. As we all know, cancer costs a lot. Even with the very best insurance, there are plenty of out of pocket expenses: co-pays and deductibles and uncovered services. Then there are the parallel costs of missing work and maybe having a reduced income, parking, gas, more childcare or other household help, etc. It can be horrifying and terrifying to add it up.

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  • Trying to Improve Mammograms

    Posted 4/20/2017 by hhill

      Anyone who has ever had a mammogram has wondered why the experience has to be so uncomfortable. Many women experience it as discomfort, but some describe intense pain. We all know the jokes that begin: "If it were men...."

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  • More re Aspirin

    Posted 4/19/2017 by hhill

      Aspirin continues to be a wonder drug. It is less exciting than many others, surely does not receive the kind of praise, inspire exciting medical articles, or command the high prices of lots of other medications. However, the evidence continues to roll in that it can be valuable in many ways to many people.

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  • You Probably Are Not Totally Losing It When You Lose Things

    Posted 4/18/2017 by hhill

      I know that this topic is not strictly cancer-related, but I also know it is a common worry. Not only is it totally frustrating to lose keys or a library book or a half-full coffee cup, but it often sets off panic about dementia. Remember the old cliche about normal memory issues vs. dementia. It is not dementia if you lose your keys; it might be dementia if you have it in your hand and don't know what to do with it.

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  • Fear of Recurrence

    Posted 4/17/2017 by hhill

      For most people recovering from a cancer diagnosis and initial treatment, this is the major fear.What if it comes back? How do I manage my anxiety and go on with my life? No matter what the details of our cancers, no one gets a promise of staying well. Cancer is a wily opponent and can behave in unpredictable ways Someone with a "good" cancer can have a recurrence and die pretty quickly while someone with a much scarier initial presentation may stay well for the rest of her life.

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  • Going Gently

    Posted 4/14/2017 by hhill

      This is a sad day for me as a dear friend died this morning. He has been ill for a long time, and his death is an end to the suffering, but also an end to all the joy and love and glow of his life. I have always felt that anticipatory grieving just prolongs the sadness and does not help one whit when the real time comes--and am feeling that again now. 

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  • Cancer Fatigue

    Posted 4/12/2017 by hhill

      Yes, I know that this is a second post today, but I will be traveling tomorrow and not able to keep up with my responsibilities.

      Although many new cancer patients, facing chemotherapy for the first time, worry most about nausea/vomiting and hair loss, it turns out that fatigue is the biggest problem for many people. Cancer-related fatigue happens for many reasons: recovery from surgery, as a predicted side effect from radiation or chemotherapy, as part of a slow recovery when treatment has ended.

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  • Supportive Baldness

    Posted 4/12/2017 by hhill

      It was probably thirty years ago when I first heard of supportive head shaving. A patient had just lost her hair due to chemotherapy, and her 16 year old son shaved his head in support. A few days later, all of his friends did the same. She was very pleased, and felt loved and supported.

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  • Ask the Expert

    Posted 4/11/2017 by hhill

      The title of today's blog, Ask the Expert, feels obnoxious, but it is the name of a monthly Living Beyond Breast Cancer feature. Monthly, there is a chosen topic, a designated expert, and the opportunity to ask questions. This month the topic is Breast Cancer and your Feelings, and I am the expert.

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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.