Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I hate math

Often when you read or hear about survival rates for women with breast cancer today the news is portrayed as good, in fact, REALLY good. And no doubt it is far better than even a mere decade ago. Plus there's lots of hope for further, even more rapid improvements in the near future, certainly.

Official survival statistics are usually expressed in terms of percentages. Take for instance "Stage I breast cancer" which is the stage it is (so far) assumed I am at. That staging touts as high as a 90% survival rate. Wow, how great! Oh, except...

...that's only for 5 years.

After that the survival rate goes down. And down. Until finally we get to 20 years and the rate has dropped to 64%. I haven't found any good statistics beyond that, which if you ask me doesn't bode well. So, in 20 years 64 out of every 100 women who had Stage I Breast Cancer will be alive. The other 36 women...

Okay, I don't want to be morose or defeatist, but I really hate these odds. I mean, I know I should be thinking positive and hope I'm in that group of 64 that's still alive in 20 years. And yeah, sure, the odds could be worse. But they could be a whole lot better too.

I suppose maybe at some point I'll get all into appreciating my life in the moment and living for today about this. But I am soooooo not there right now. Right now I'm heartbroken. Right now I'm pissed off. Right now, I'm scared out of my fraggin mind.

In twenty years I'll only be 65. Sixty-Five! That's still so young. Megan will only be near 28 and Daniel will be just half-past 22. Will I see my children live the prime of their lives? Will I get to see any of my grandchildren? Will Michael and I have some time to enjoy our "golden years" together? These are the type of questions often in the back of most people's minds as they age...but they just got moved to the forefront of mine, big time.

I know I can't reduce my own individual lifespan to a math equation...and that my life won't suddenly end at some magical statistical moment, of course. Sure, I plan to do alot of stuff to up my odds (oh my, you have no idea -- that's a whole 'nother blog in and of itself!) Yes, I know alot of people are going to say I shouldn't be thinking like this. But they also probably don't have cancer.

I do, and it's starting to sink in. And I am really sad today.


Brenda said...

I always wonder how those survival rates compare to the general population. Would 36 women have died anyway of something else? Thats what I want to know.

I try not to think about it, but when you meet those ladies at the infusion center who have been at this for years, it kind of scares you. And then you meet women on the street who are 20 year survivors. . . .

My grandmother is a 30 survivor. She had cobalt radiation therapy, horrible stuff. So I am just going to assume I will be one of those 30 to 40 years survivors.

Its the only way I can keep going to chemo.

La Belette Rouge said...

You are entitled to feel sad and angry and whatever you want to feel. If I had Cancer I know I would be moving between absolute hope and total defeat. I think you are amazing that you are so positive and proactive.

I am really-really-really bad at math. I have to say that with IVF the math never made sense to me. These statistics don't make sense to me either.

I know a woman( a friend of my mother's) who had breast cancer in her 40's. She is in her late 70's and is doing well. People do beat the odds and you will too.

I am so sorry you are dealing with this kind of math.

Much love and hugs.xoxo

Erica said...

Numbers are scary. But there is such strength in you--and you will get to see your children and your grandchildren, because you will beat this!

You're such a brave, beautiful lady--I think about you daily and send good thoughts your way.

Weronika Janczuk said...

Kayleigh, think positively--you will be the one to beat the odds and succeed.

I think of you everyday. Stay brave, and keep writing. Keep finding the little things that make each day worth it.

Have a fabulous weekend. I'll stop by again soon!

Jean said...

Of course you're going to feel sad, and you will have down days, that's absolutely understandable, expected and ALLOWED!

Kayleigh, you are a survivor and you will beat this. And survive to a ripe old age. Think positive. Stay strong. Keep doing the lottery. x

Unknown said...

You have every right to feel and experience any emotion that gets at you right now. Feel and experience them all thoroughly, because then it will be easier to recoup and move on.

And here's a story for you: I know two people whose cancer diagnoses were really, really bad. One's our former teacher and the other a friend's son-in-law. Both were given only a couple of months to live when diagnosed, *at the most*. It's now several years later and both are living well! Not that it's perfect ... both go back and forth from remission to needing chemo and other kinds of treatment, but both totally defied the "only months to live" odds, to say the least. In fact, I was bridesmaid at the guy's wedding. :o)

I think there are lots of stories like that around too. Don't lose hope!

Anonymous said...

I'm still here. Hugs.

Kate (a.k.a. Mrs. Makeover) said...

Goodness! I've been so behind on my blog reading, and so I've missed your announcement. I'm so sorry to hear and I will keep you in my prayers!