High Stakes

20 Dec

It seems to me that this whole oncology thing is a lot like taking a trip to Las Vegas. It’s all about playing the odds, watching the numbers, and trying to figure out numerical concepts like probability. Basically, oncology is a game of chance. Except we’re not playing with money. With oncology, the stakes are a bit higher.

Starting with my diagnosis, there was never a set procedure for me to follow. Each treatment option was laid out before me – surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation – and we considered the benefits versus the risks of each one. There were no definite answers. Decisions were based on what appeared to be my best chance at survival.

I have the greatest of respect and appreciation for the experts in the oncology field. But the truth is, when it comes to cancer, we just don’t know a whole lot. I mean, our treatment options include cutting, poisoning and burning. Seems like we could just as well throw in a few leeches, couldn’t we?

Last week I visited the oncology center. I’ve got the routine down pat. First the lab, then a physical exam, and then I meet with my oncologist and we talk numbers. We review my latest blood count. We consider the current breast cancer statistics. And we calculate my chances of having a recurrence. It’s no wonder I don’t like math.

Researchers now say that one in three women with estrogen-positive breast cancer will have a recurrence. My cancer was estrogen-positive. I don’t like those odds. I wouldn’t like them even if I were in Vegas.

But on the bright side, in the breast cancer survivor world, I am considered young and healthy – those factors are in my favor.

However, statistics show that when “young” breast cancer survivors do have a recurrence, the cancer returns with a vengeance. Not so good.

See how complicated this is? If only oncology came with a guarantee. It would be so much more reassuring than just rolling the dice and hoping for the best.


4 Responses to “High Stakes”

  1. Kamela December 21, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    Praying that you will be one of the 2 out of 3 women that don’t have a recurrence!

  2. writergirldreams December 21, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

    Odds that you are loved, in Heaven and here on Earth, one out of one. wgd

  3. wagonwifedesigns December 22, 2010 at 1:06 pm #

    It is a really interesting post. I hate the “roll of the dice myself” when it comes to not having a concrete treatment plan. Thanks for the information Jill. Let us hope the new year brings clearer information with research.
    On a brighter note,
    Have a Very Merry Christmas!

  4. Janet Lea January 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Besides being young, healthy & beautiful, we have an awesome God. Job 5:8-9 says: “But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” That’s our prayer for you this 2011 year for we are laying out the cause with our appeal to this great God.

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