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Chemo Files Episode 6: Second Opinions

Confused about the American Cancer Society’s recommendation -- during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, no less -- that women get fewer mammograms? We were too . . .

chemo x-ray

While we're on winter hiatus we'll be regularly posting episodes from this compelling podcast on breast cancer, as well as those from our October conference NJ Spotlight on Cities.

If you’ve been looking for some light on the American Cancer Society’s puzzling pronouncement on October 20  -- recommending less mammogram screening for breast cancer  -- you’ve probably been frustrated. You’ve seen a lot of finger-pointing from all sides of the controversy, but little explanation of the science behind it. Heat, but no light.

We’re the exception.

In Episode 6 of The Chemo Files, my son Noah and I talk to a top breast cancer expert in the U.K., Dr. Michael Baum, and learn why a breast surgeon whose mother died of breast cancer, and who helped set up the U.K.’s early-screening effort, changed his mind and became a vociferous opponent of widespread screening. We also talk to Dr. Nancy Elliott of the Montclair Breast Center in New Jersey  -- and it was that interview turned the key that made us understand how this all works.

chemo pull quote 6

Of course, being The Chemo Files, we also make it all very personal  --  and bring you scenes from our cue-ball head Halloween. And show you what it’s like to ask a preeminent doctor for a second opinion three-and-a-half months into your treatment.

With interviews from Dr. Michael Scoppetuolo, chief medical officer of the Cancer Center at St. Barnabas Medical Center; Dr. Michael Baum, professor emeritus of surgery and visiting professor of medical humanities at University College, London; and Dr. Nancy Elliott, director of the Montclair Breast Center. It’s a family effort: Warren Levinson did much of the tape editing. Our new logo courtesy of Joe Amditis. And we feature new music composed just for The Chemo Files from Evan Schwartzman (“Chemistry is Scary”) and Noah Levinson (“Screen 2”).

Debbie Galant is the publisher of Midcentury Modern Magazine, a magazine about age, identity, and generational politics that lives on She is also the co-producer (with her 23-year-old son Noah Levinson) of a podcast called The Chemo Files, about having breast cancer. By day, she explores the future of news as Associate Director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. Galant is also a former New York Times columnist, the author of three novels, and the founder of Baristanet, one of the first hyperlocal news sites in the country.

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