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  • When You Need to Travel for Care

    Posted 7/31/2014 by hhill

      Living in Boston, one of the world's medical meccas, this comes up much less frequently than it does for other people. We live in a place with hospitals that care for people from all over the world. For most of us in the greater Boston area, the logistical difficulties have to do with traffic and parking, not with traveling long distances.

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  • Scientist Chooses Science First

    Posted 7/30/2014 by hhill
      I had some trouble (as you, no doubt, could tell) with a title for this entry. I am fascinated by the decision made by Dr. Kimberly Koss about her breast cancer treatment. Diagnosed with triple negative disease, reportedly the recommended treatment was neoadjuvant chemotherapy. "Neoadjuvant" means having at least some of the planned chemotherapy prior to surgery. This is a not uncommon situation and frequently suggested for women with large tumors or aggressive cancers. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Weight and Prognosis

    Posted 7/29/2014 by hhill
      The issues of weight and exercise are recurring themes with the inevitable conclusion that both matter. Sadly, there are no easy solutions to losing or maintaining weight, and it is even harder for post-menopausal women and/or women who are taking one of the hormonal therapies. Very honestly, at least for me, it seems a triumph to just keep weight steady. Losing it is really difficult. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Possible Major Hormone News

    Posted 7/28/2014 by hhill
      This is a first study from Texas Tech University that suggests that carefully chosen hormones can improve both survival and quality of life in women (including ER positive women) post breast cancer. If this study holds up when it is replicated, it may eventually be a treatment game changer. Like everything else, this must be considered with a big grain of salt and the recognition that it is a single study with mice--that is, any results or changes are very far from prime time. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Giving up Control

    Posted 7/27/2014 by hhill
      For many, if not most, of us the loss of control that always accompanies cancer is one of the hardest challenges. The biggest out of control is prognosis, but there are all sorts of smaller challenges: scheduling appointments, not being sure when we won't feel well, hair loss, periods of intense anxiety. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Dance to Fight Fatigue

    Posted 7/26/2014 by hhill
      I have been thinking about the pleasures of dancing over the last couple of days because of my visiting 5 year old granddaughter. She is figuratively and often literally dancing her way through life: pirouetting across the kitchen, leaping with semi-pointed toes in the garden, swaying rather than standing still. The visuals are even better when she is dressed in various dress up combinations of sparkles and scarves and bright colors. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Clinical Trials

    Posted 7/25/2014 by hhill

      A few basic facts about clinical trials to remember:

    1. They are designed to test new drugs or procedures or, sometimes, equipment in all areas of medicine; they are not reserved for oncology care.

    2. Everything we know about what is effective has been learned from carefully designed and executed trials. We all stand on the shoulders of women (and men) who agreed to participate.

    3. They are not only for very sick people. In breast cancer care, there are plenty of trials for women with early stage cancer. Examples would include the one that I participated in long ago that compared concurrent radiation and chemotherapy with the more usual first one/then the other schedule or the current trial that is comparing the benefit of tamoxifen to that of an AI plus a monthly shot to close down ovarian function for ER positive pre-menopausal women.

    4. Most clinical trials do not result in final FDA approval of new medicines.. The success rate is rather small, generally quoted as under 20% for oncology drugs.

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  • What If

    Posted 7/24/2014 by hhill
      For most of us, this is the central issue about living with breast cancer. What if it comes back? Certainly the early months after diagnosis are often dominated by this fear, but it never completely goes away. Slowly, over time, most women find ways to compartmentalize the anxiety, but it pops up in ways both anticipated and surprising. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Link Between Diet and Fatigue

    Posted 7/23/2014 by hhill
      This study mostly falls into the category of "what your mother always told you" and "yes, that's common sense." However, a real attempt to look at the association between post treatment diet and fatigue, with and without the consideration of the impact of regular exercise, is valuable. You are what you eat, as they always saw, and the right foods do help us feel better. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Words and Grief

    Posted 7/22/2014 by hhill
      This is an entry that you may want to skip. It is brutally authentic and very sad, an essay about a young father's slow dying. Written by his wife, Lee Ann Cox, it is also beautiful and true and lasting. I have been thinking about whether or not to share it with you for a while, and have come down on the side of opening with this warning. And then going on to the real gift of her words. Read more... Comments (0)
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