Articles of Interest This Week

poetry in cancerMy weekly articles of interest:


To CT scan or not: What is the ultimate goal of patients? reminds us that what we want, as patients, is not just tests but rather the information we need to know whether we should worry or not, and whether a test is in fact needed.

In a similar vein, Do Oncologists Lie to Their Patients About Their Prognoses? outlines just how hard it is for oncologists to give accurate information when the odds are not good, and just like all of us, are subject to the same emotional pulls. My doctors have been good in that way – outlining the bleak odds, but indicating the factors that may help me be on the right side of the curve.

Some good news to those of you stressed out at work. Work stress link to cancer in doubt cites a large-scale study (over 100,000) showing stressful work situations to not increase the risk of cancer (colorectal, lung, breast or prostate). Of course, stress is not good, and the same study showed an increase of risk for coronary heart disease.

A good overview of recent treatment developments in a detailed slide set in Lymphoma, covering mantle cell lymphoma, other B-cell lymphomas, T-cell lymphomas and Hodgkins lymphoma. More for patients at the beginning of their journey to discuss treatment options with their medical team.

Study finds potentially dangerous errors in chemo use at hospitals is frightening, but reading through the article and comparing to my experience, find that many of the recommendations already in practice at The Ottawa Hospital, where I was treated (e.g., having a second person confirm the dose and drip settings).

Building on labelling for tobacco products, World Cancer Day: How meat can be murder reminds us of the risks of processed meats for colon cancer, and suggests similar labelling.

And in the same week of my Writing as Cancer Therapy piece, Finding Poetry in Cancer talks about how people living with cancer have used poetry to express and help them through their journey. Susan Gubar in Living With Cancer: Waking in the Dark cites a number of poems in her reflections of getting through the worries, anxieties and fear of death, which often emerge at night, and keep us awake. She ends up with the guarded realism in lines from Theodore Roethke:

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

Health and Wellness

Behind the fetish of vitamin B12 shots discusses the medicine and science behind B12 deficiency, and how pills are as effective as shots. My medical team never suggested shots but prescribed pills to address my post stem cell transplant deficiency.

Dr. Google: Tips for patients who diagnose online provides good tips: remember which sites you visit, ask your medical team for recommended sites, and go to sites affiliated with medical or health institutions. My only addition would be moderation as there is a limit to what one can absorb, and how much time one should spend.

Not surprising, for those of us with exercise playlists, but nice confirmation of how beat helps us increase the tempo in Getting Into Your Exercise Groove.

And for the policy wonks among us, a discussion of some of the choices and options facing Canadian healthcare according to Janice MacKinnon, a former Finance Minister of Saskatchewan (where Canadian medicare started) in Saskatchewan knows what Tommy Douglas would do.


The truth about lying: Research shows how famous fibbers give the game away provides some concrete examples of how some of the famous lyers in history (e.g., Clinton, Armstrong) had some visual clues that for the experts suggested things were not as presented. Nice list of top 10 clues, but the bottom line is that lying requires considerable effort and suppression of emotion, which tend to give them away.

For those interested in debates between the faith and atheism, an old conversation between Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan in Hitch And Sully: Is Religion Fossilized Philosophy? and Hitch And Sully: “Who Is This Herr Ratzinger?”.  While I like much of what Hitchens writes, some of his strident atheism (as in Dawkins) is ironically akin to fundamentalist religious views.

David Brooks on The Philosophy of Data discusses how data can correct for biases and help us develop new insights. Nothing too new here but a good discussion. The most recent example, of course, was the 2012 elections where the pundits lost badly to the data nerd Nate Silver.

An interesting take on the link between fear and conservative views in Tendency to fear is strong political influence, and how familiarity can diminish fears. The degree to which more of us, right or left, live in real or virtual ‘bubbles’, the greater the potential for fear of the other or the unknown:

“It’s not that conservative people are more fearful, it’s that fearful people are more conservative. People who are scared of novelty, uncertainty, people they don’t know, and things they don’t understand, are more supportive of policies that provide them with a sense of surety and security,” ….

“In this way, the definition of unfamiliar may shift across time and location based on experience and education, and a genetically informed fear disposition is hardly permanent or fixed,”


2 thoughts on “Articles of Interest This Week

  1. Hi Andrew

    Ok…Clearly your transition has meant adjustments for your readers. So now I look forward to a great Saturday morning read with my coffee! YES!!!

    I wanted to share that I like the graphic and the use of color which ties in with the article titles. This works well! Congratulations.

    I am looking for a graphic artist familiar with vectors who would do some probono work for my charity. Do you know of anyone who might consider this?

    All my best…..


    “Live, Act and Be Grateful”

    • Thanks Lesia for the feedback – sounds like the transition is working.

      I don’t know any graphic designers, unfortunately. I just use standard templates and pick one of the visuals with one of the articles I select, generally the one I like most in terms of visual impact.

      Good luck,


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