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Health

The Stressful Conclusion of a Clinical Trial

“What does the drug actually cost?” I finally asked him.“More than $15,000 a month.”“You’re kidding,” I said, wondering how long Medicare and I could afford to plunk down our shares of the jaw-dropping figure.Then, in mid-September, I received happy news. Though Pfizer has a legal right to charge me for the commercially available drug, the company has decided to keep me (as well as the handful of other women in my situation) on the study drug for the time being. I have no clue how long this will be; however, it feels like a dispensation, and I am grateful for it.After I got that news, I asked Pfizer to clarify the company’s policy on continuing to provide beneficial medications to patients, and the response cheered me. Steven Danehy, Pfizer’s director of global media relations, wrote in...

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Health

Experiences With Cancer, Captured in Works of Art

As Covid-19 heightens the anxieties of cancer patients, online support groups step up efforts to help by means of social networking. One such group, Twist Out Cancer, sponsors an innovative program called Brushes With Cancer that matches patients with artists who create a unique piece of artwork to capture the experience of their disease.When I first heard about Brushes With Cancer, I was predisposed in its favor because I have witnessed firsthand the transformative capacity of the visual arts. Generally, I forewarn prospective patient-readers about the depressing account of ovarian cancer in my book “Memoir of a Debulked Woman”; however, one stranger’s response elated me. Juliet R. Harrison sent me an art object that made the darkness visible. She had gutted the book — cut into its cov...

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Health

Pandemic Loneliness in Late Life

By the end of June, when my husband landed in the hospital, its administrators had begun allowing one visitor per patient, much to my relief. At 92, Don had fallen and fractured a hip. He would need an operation and then rehab in a facility that responded to the ongoing coronavirus by extending its ban on all visitors. This last prospect filled me with dread.A month earlier, Don’s sister, Mary, had fallen in Chicago and her four daughters — scattered across the States — promptly got into their cars to help her through the subsequent ordeal. But they spent their visits outside a window, displaying the baked goods and flowers they would deliver to a receptionist, miming acts of affection.The pandemic has made isolates of the elderly. We have all read ghastly stories about coronavirus pati...

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