Thursday, September 22, 2011

P-L-E-E-E-E-Z-E excuse my math!!

it seems to me that some people think that cancer has an awfully lot to do with math. i will give you some examples. for one thing, only 5% of all thyroid nodules are cancerous. if you, like me, are in that elite 5%, that percentage has a whole different meaning( or none at all, perhaps). trust me, when my doctor called to tell me that i had cancer, i was not thinking about the other 95% of the population. i guess that you could say that 95% is an A, and i had just flunked the biopsy exam.

another example is from the american cancer society. according to them, here are the 5 year survival rates for three types of thyroid cancer:

papillary, stage I: 100%. stage II: 100%, stage III : 93%

follicular: stage I: 100%, stage II: 100%, stage III: 71%

medullary: stage I: 100%; stage II: 98%, stage III: 81%

compare these to breast cancer survival rates: stage I: 96%, stage II: 84%, stage III: 52%

perhaps this is why thyroid cancer is known(among those who  do not have thyroid cancer) as the "good cancer". this is another one of my pet peeves. who can call any cancer "good" for heavens sake! since i was diagnosed with stage III papillary cancer, i am in the 93% group. to be honest, that makes me a little nervous. let's face it, it is barely an A! joking aside, i am thankful that i had papillary stage III  and not follicular or medullary. worse still, and i will not talk about this one, is anaplastic .but if you are curious, it only, (thankfully ) accounts for 1.6% of all thyroid cancers. it is a " get your affairs in order quickly"  cancer. by that i mean that less than 1% of people diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer are alive after just two years. sure does not sound too good to me.

i know that these percentages come from years of study and research. i have seen some variation,though, depending on the source. does that make a difference to me? not really. i did not even want to know what stage cancer i had until i was nearing my treatment. how could it have helped me? i think that it would only have discouraged me. when i was ready to find out, i was prepared to "fight" and do whatever i could to get better. being tested for cancer, then finding out that you have cancer is tough. so is surgery, treatment, the  after effects from your surgery and treatment , emotional issues,etc. . i think that it is good to take one step at a time. do the best that  you can do at each level and maintain as positive an attitude as you possibly can. knowledge is power- read all that you can, from reliable sources. but never lose hope. we are not machines. math percentages do not define us. in my career as a health professional, i have seen some  stage I cancer patients die quickly, and some  stage IV patients live a good long life.

hope, faith, love, the will to live- these things  factor into those percentages. and i can say that i am 100% sure of that!!


  1. I wholeheartedly agree with your pet peeve! It's one of mine too. Loved your last statement!

  2. Very True!! Thanks for the calculations and information shared here. I agree with them.

    Thanks. Keep posting.
    breast cancer surgeons

  3. Hey Bea, I've been missing your blog lately.
    My husband is undergoing open heart surgery in a few minutes & I'm thankful he's finally getting help. I stupidly didn't listen to my inner voice & get a second opinion for him as he's been getting worse & worse all summer. I kept telling our family physician something was wrong & we even just went to Maui where I prayed he wouldn't die. Finally found out his mitral valve is ruptured so he's in for a replacement.
    Keep telling people to get help!
    love to you,

  4. oh bobette, i am so sorry to hear about your husband! but i am glad that he is getting help. the medical profession seems to have made great strides in open heart surgery in just the past few years. please do not blame yourself- he is getting help now, and that is what counts. please know that you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. and please let me know how he is doing! love and best wishes,bea