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  • Body Image after Cancer

    Posted 2/23/2018 by hhill

      If there is anyone who likes his/her body better after cancer, I have not met her. I do know a few people who liked their post chemo hair ("I always wanted curls") or reconstructed breasts ("Bouncy like a 16 year old"), but virtually all of us preferred the way we were before the surgeons and radiation oncologists and medical oncologists had their ways with us.

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  • More on Immunotherapy

    Posted 2/22/2018 by hhill

      This is almost a companion piece to yesterday's entry about personalized medicine. I have written before about immunotherapy (sometimes called biologics) which is a growing and exciting area of research in cancer care. The underlying theory is finding ways to stimulate the body's natural immune system to more effectively kill off the cancer. Often the treatments are vaccines that use man-made proteins that mimic the existing immune system cells and encourage them to work harder. (how do you like my non-doctor explanation?)

      Here is a link to the American Cancer Society's explanation:

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  • Personalized Medicine

    Posted 2/21/2018 by hhill

      Personalized Medicine used to mean that your doctor knew your name, a little about your family, and had more then twenty minutes to spend on a regular visit. It may even have meant an occasional house call. (And here let me pause to pay tribute to Dr. Francis McDonald, a true old time healer and pediatrician. Forty years ago when my family and I had just moved to the Boston area, my 1 year old daughter became very ill on New Year's Day. We hadn't even finished unpacking, and I was hesitant to take her to the ER, but had no idea what else to do. A neighbor suggested that I call her pediatrician, Dr. McDonald. Now remember that this was a holiday, and he had never heard of me, but I called. Not only did he answer his own phone, but he immediately said that he would come to our house--and he did so. He remains in my heart and in my personal pantheon of heroes.) 

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  • Cell Phones and Cancer Risk

    Posted 2/20/2018 by hhill

      Not too long ago, there was a lot of news and hysteria about the cancer risk posed by cell phones. Some of the stories made it seem that we were all headed towards malignant brain tumors caused by holding our phones close to our ears and heads. The more phone time, no doubt the bigger and more lethal the brain tumor. Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but this seems like another example of the public response and news getting way ahead of the science.

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  • Bucket Lists

    Posted 2/19/2018 by hhill

      First an explanation and/or an apology. Trying to follow instructions and encouragement at this end, I posted last Thursday and Friday on the new blog site. My incorrect belief was that posts there would also show up here. Thanks to a loyal reader, Casey, I learned that blogs there are there and blogs here are here. The institutional hope is that I will double post for the next few weeks until everything shifts to the new one. That probably won't happen; at least it won't happen every day.

      So, for now, I will keep posting here and you will have the added bonus of two new posts from February when everything moves over soon. When that is about to happen, I will make sure we all know it, and will leave any instructions or information that you need.

      Today's topic is bucket lists. Probably everyone knew that term anyway, but the recent movie of the same name moved name recognition higher. Taken from the expression to kick the bucket (and that comes from the suicide method of standing on a bucket to fasten rope around one's neck and then kicking away the bucket), it means a list of things or goals one wants to accomplish before dying.

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Cancer Center
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.