Friday, September 18, 2009

So the numbers, as far as I can tell, go a little something like this:

  • About 2,000 to 3,000 people in the U.S. get diagnosed with Bile Duct Cancer each year.
  • Bile Duct Cancer is about twice as common in men than it is in women when diagnosed in 60 and 70 year old people. It is 15 times more common in men than women when diagnosed under the age of 40.
  • Bile Duct Cancer is mainly seen in older people with the average age at diagnosis being 73.
  • Median survival for Bile Duct Cancer is 6 months when untreatable by surgery.
  • 5 year survival rate for cases where a liver resection is possible is something like 15-40%
Reading these numbers Becca-style would go something like this:
  • My cancer is seriously rare.
  • More dudes have this cancer than chicks and because I'm a chick with bile duct cancer who was diagnosed while I was less than 40 years old I am even more of a rarity.
  • I'm not anywhere near to being 73 how did I get this disease?
  • I'm lucky that the doctors thought my cancer could be treated with surgery, but super unlucky that the cancer keeps recurring and is spreading.
  • The out-look even with my surgery isn't too great.
Sometimes having bile duct cancer is a very lonely thing. There are no bile duct cancer support groups because there just aren't that many of us who have it and for those of us who do, the outlook is grim. There are no foundations or research groups that I know of dedicated to bile duct cancer. We are a relatively unknown cancer population. And being young and a woman has put me in an even smaller group. I enjoy being unique and all, but this particular uniqueness I could do without. The odds sound grim, but whenever the odds get me down I think of my Star Wars buddy, Han Solo. In The Empire Strikes Back Han considers flying the Millennium Falcon into an asteroid field to escape the Empire. When C-3PO hears this he informs Han that the odds of surviving in an asteroid field are about 3,720 to 1, and my man, Han, responds with, "Never tell me the odds!" And I agree, I don't want to know the odds. It doesn't matter what they are, they are just numbers, and I am not planning on giving up just because the numbers think I should.

Even on the rainiest day, when it looks like all the numbers are against you, you can still choose to defy the odds. And defy them I will!


Michael said...

there's a book by some guy, last name fritz, called the path of least resistance.
not about cancer... more about ...creativity... creating what you want i guess... someone i met recently gives a workshop based on this book...
its kind of like a different way of thinking that helps people break out of repetitive patterns that keeps us from ccreating the things we want in our lives...
I guess focussing on solutions, sometimes people (ok. i mean me) can forget a bit about the people...
Michael Goguen