Monday, February 14, 2011

The Wizard of ODDS

KNIT 1: The oncology Wizard of ODDS can't really tell you anything- all she can show is  how many people are still alive in 10 years who have your level of breast cancer (even that is inexact- the range of others in my stat pool are categorized with the numbers 1-3) with my case being more a 1 and so the mean stats are weighed slightly less favorable only because I'm in with people who are 3's_  Good news i can cheat the numbers a bit into the more positive range- soo?
And it's Monday AM but the oncologist who is the same age as I am already has bloodshot eyes. You can tell she uses a really good SPF hand cream because her hands are almost milk-blue white without even the hint of a sun-brown 'age' spot- but further up above her wrist, a few little freclkles are beginning to merge into a larger diameter of tell-tale liver colored skin. It's routine for her she lets me know its hard for her too - to be a cancer doctor- she wishes this were more fun- face it she is dealing with the sick of the sick everyday. And she is all too familiar with the ODDS, all things being EVEN. She is more stooped than any of my same age friends and I worry about her developing osteoporosis. Still she is a smart girl from Austin university med school with residency at U of Chicago so I can feel confident she knows how to read and interpret the info that frankly I've just read up on and I did not have to get through med school in order for us to communicate about the #s-

Anyways- if treating BC with only surgery, in 10 years only 15 % of persons will still be alive- (this is using 100 people as the pool) with chemo the ODDS jump to 24 % with chemo and combining chemo with 5 years of hormone therapy it increases another 9% or 33 will still be alive- that is by today's standards of treatment- in another year or five or 9.7 the ODDS may be different based on new therapies. Then radiation experts will want to add their %s to the mix, treating the chest for any lurking cells even tho the surgeon says ALL margins are clean- surreal and yet everyone will do all they can to stay alive as long as possible - that is the given, Still it's our CHOICE on all of it-. I feel lucky? but I never gamble or play lotto or slots or any of it I even feel uncomfortable playing rock - paper-scissors- luck isn't a very comforting escort even if he is sexy- Luck may lay down a coat over the puddle if the numbers are right, but he will just as likely flip a coin to see if its your jacket or his he uses- The operative that tips the scales seems to be CHEMO-

Pearl 2:
We toured the "infusion" ward- everyone looks sick and also completely engaged in "getting better"- you know that commercial where everyone is a numeral as they walk down the street? You could almost see the numbers above their little bald heads- no one making eye contact- soon I'll be one of them sitting in the easy chair, cozying up to my drip bag of CYTO-TOXIN This & That. A neophyte BC patient healthy-looking weary from surgery will be escorted in for a "look-see" and I probably won't make eye contact out of a weird protective wish for her faint-daze-gossamer of false privacy or maybe I might just a whisper of a wink a tiny gesture of: "it's okay Cancer is embarrassing for all of us".
WE are ALIVE we are WHOLE and holy even if we do have a few holes here and there-  It sad kind of that it's a meat-packing kind of efficiency - the roll-call, the hope- and it is true hope- then there are the numbers- the schedule- the drugs the remission the waiting- there are no signs for health- nothing to indicate the cancer is checked or balanced-  - I leave this post with a message Lara sent me a few days ago-
"Do your best, don't worry, be happy and leave the results to God." -Meher Baba

1 comment:

elizabeth said...

CORRECTION OF THE STATS- I was Never good at math- I reversed the understanding of %s. F helped me sort this out- he is GOOD at math-
With surgery only, in 10 years 60 people would die of cancer 40 would NOT- with Chemo added to treatment: only 24 will be dead or have reccurance; ADD chemo + surgery and hormones for 5 years, another 9 will be alive. So the outlook of the outcome for my case in FIGURES is more accurately 88%- 90% survival rates- Happier craps - However- there isn't a stat here for adding all your LOVE and that closes the GAP completely- because LOVING KINDNESS is immeasurable— [To paraphrase W. Faulkner's Noble prize speech for literature -- I WILL not only SURVIVE- I will PREVAIL.].