Friday, June 1, 2012


Tomorrow is my blog's fifth birthday. Five years ago I started this little means of communication. Who knew that over 1800 posts later, I would still be writing it? And still going to the (damn) doctor all the time.

It also means its been five years since my breast cancer diagnosis. I'm not celebrating. Some people jump up and down and say five years and have a party or some other celebration. I don't feel the need.

For some reason, cancer statistics always include five year survival rates. That doesn't mean squat. Its a number that was selected and used but cancer can still recur later. I did some research on this (which means I asked Dr. Google) and found that the Mayo Clinic provides some insight. (The Mayo Clinic is a bit smarter than Dr. Google so I will believe them.)

First it gives some back ground on what a survival rate is:

"One of the questions many people ask when first diagnosed with cancer is about their prognosis. You might want to know whether your cancer is relatively easy or more difficult to cure. Your doctor can't predict the future, but an estimate is possible based on the experiences of other people with the same cancer."

"Cancer survival rates are based on research that comes from information gathered on hundreds or thousands of people with a specific cancer. An overall survival rate includes people of all ages and health conditions who have been diagnosed with your cancer, including those diagnosed very early and those diagnosed very late."

This means based on other people with the same diagnosis, this is what you can expect. If a five year survival rate is 90% it means, that 10% of the people with the same diagnosis didn't make it five years while 90% did. The cup half full says 90% is the number to focus on. Its a statistic so when you focus on these you become a statistic.

Also, as I said, they don't mean squat:

"Cancer survival rates often use a five-year survival rate. But that doesn't mean that cancer can't recur beyond five years. Cancer can recur many years after successful treatment. Discuss your risk of a cancer recurrence with your doctor"

So in other words, they are statistics and you need to talk to your doctor about your particular case. This is your standard lawyer sanitized, Dr Google medical speak, CYA language to say they are merely numbers and don't really mean anything.

So no I'm not celebrating. Not yet, I'm waiting until they find a cure.

1 comment:

Jim's Girl said...

Congratulations on reaching your 5th bloggaversary, Caroline. I only found your blog a few months back -- I was diagnosed in the fall with breast cancer. I really appreciate your posts and look forward to reading them.

Here`s to five more years!

--Kate at

I Started a New Blog

I started this blog when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. Blogging really helped me cope with my cancer and its treatment. Howe...