Sunday, January 1, 2017

Risk Vs. Worry

You get cancer, get treated, and they say 'here, go on with your life'. (That last part is so helpful! NOT.) Somewhere in the middle of all that treatment crap, they give you all the numbers about statistics - which,as the patient, we interpret wrong. If they say you have a 99% chance of living five years, all us patients put ourselves into the 1% who are not going to make it. (And we ignore the fact that the entire 99% could be hit by a bus at any time.)

Over at 'The Big C and Me', I read today's post by Renn about 'Five Years and Counting' and she included the American Cancer Society's statistic about survival rates for stage II breast cancer. Then I read this post about cancer people mis-interpreting risk and worrying too much - When Does Worry Outweigh Risk. The article starts with:

"For patients with breast cancer — even after treatment — worries about risk are common. Patients wonder, could the cancer come back? Will it spread throughout the body?"

Obviously whoever wrote this has never had breast cancer. Of course we worry, its cancer. Anyway, some research was done and they found after talking to 1000 women with breast cancer diagnoses behind them and found:

"They found 36 percent of the DCIS patients and 25 percent of the low-risk patients substantially overestimated their risk of distant recurrence.

Women who overestimated their risk were three times more likely to report worry about recurrence. They had higher distress scores and lower mental health."

This surprises them? Anyway, go read the whole thing here. They go on to talk about how patients need to understand the differences in risk - when is it low and when it is higher and the difference between local (won't kill you) and distant (the bad kind) recurrences. How patients need to talk to  their doctors more about this and learn about all this so they don't end up with 'higher distress and lower mental health'. 

(These people clearly do not have breast cancer. They don't understand us.) We had cancer and we are going to worry. We just need to learn to manage the risk 

I have had cancer twice now and I do worry about the risk. I had cancer once and my worst fears came to pass when I got it again. So now I am not supposed to worry about getting it again? How's that going to happen?

I'm going to work on worrying that risk thing again still so I don't have 'higher distress scores and lower mental health'. I have a therapist and one of my supposed diagnoses is 'post cancer depression'. When I get past the depression for the first cancer, I'll work on the depression for the second cancer. But I will work on it.

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