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  • Most Doctors Not Prescribing Marijuana

    Posted 9/20/2017 by hhill

      Hey, isn't medical marijuana now legal in many states, including in Massachusetts? And isn't recreational marijuana not far behind? Yes and yes, but that does not mean it is easy to get a prescription.

      I am unaware of any of our medical oncologists who are comfortable writing prescriptions for their patients. The reasons range from "It's not nationally legal" to uncertainty about the best uses/doses to a general sense of unease. Let's be clear that marijuana is not the perfect cure for any symptoms that might be bothersome. In my experience through all these years of illegal use by patients, it sometimes helps and sometimes doesn't. I suspect that the efficacy is not so different than that of other, for example, anti-nausea drugs. But, for some people, it is really helpful, and the process should not be so cumbersome.

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  • Beware of Natural

    Posted 9/19/2017 by hhill

      A quick summary of today's entry: Just because something is natural does not mean that it is safe. Think about rattlesnakes or black widow spiders or poke weed or bittersweet night shade. So much advertising is focused on natural, and since chemotherapy and radiation are most certainly not natural, the others can sound very tempting.

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  • Pain

    Posted 9/18/2017 by hhill

      Pain is not a popular topic. If you are not experiencing it, you naturally would prefer not to think much about it. If you are living with acute or chronic pain, much of your energy is going to just coping. I wrote last week about the concerns around opioid use for cancer patients and survivors. That is part of the problem, but not all of it. Pain is different in every situation and for every person. For cancer patients, pain is most often related to surgical recovery or radiation or the cancer itself.

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  • Understanding More About Cancer

    Posted 9/15/2017 by hhill

      Learning about cancer is a continuing education in the more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. I often refer people to Siddhartha Mukherjee's incredible book, The Emperor of All Maladies. Reading it, and it reads like a novel, gives you an appreciation of the incredible challenges that cancer presents and respect for all the research progress that has happened over many years.

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  • Exercise and Cancer Risk

    Posted 9/14/2017 by hhill

      More today on the importance of regular mild/moderate exercise. I am feeling virtuous as I did get to the gym this morning, something that is more difficult with the increased fall traffic. I am just unable to get myself out of bed before 5:45, and getting up then to go to the gym does mean the drive is going to take longer and be more frustrating. Here is the daily question: Which is better: Exercise or an easier commute? I know there are stellar people who can exercise after work, but I am definitely not one of them. It is first thing in the morning or never.

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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.