Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What Are the Odds?

One in three Americans will get cancer at some point in their lives. Fortunately, some cancers are completely curable, and others have very good odds for survival. Roughly 14,000 people a year are diagnosed with leukemia, a small percentage when compared to the most prevalent (and highly treatable) form of cancer in the U.S., basal cell carcinoma. Unfortunately, the odds are not so rosy when leukemia is your cancer. Lady Luck has already thrown you in a ditch, and the statistics kick you while you're down.

But statistics paint a general picture, not an individual one. Even the worst baseball team can defeat the best. You can make informed predictions, but hey, you never know. So far, I'm beating the odds. When my doctor pronounced the magic word "remission" after my first chemo treatment, I felt like I'd won the lottery. I was briefly ecstatic, but as with a sugar high I came crashing back to reality. The cancer had been beaten back, probably not completely eliminated. With chemo alone, I had a 50-50 chance of vanquishing leukemia. Hit me. Five hellish months yielded eight months of (mostly) smelling the roses. I was inching my way to a cure, when, boom! Relapse. Lost that one. More odds, more poison, transplant. I've defied more of those pesky odds by surviving the transplant. Will my luck hold?

This is what transplant survivors constantly ask themselves. Has it worked? Will my new immune system destroy any surviving leukemic cells? It's no picnic living with intimations of mortality every loving minute of every loving day. What if I relapse? What then? Fortunately, I'm able to dismiss (more like bury) these thoughts most of the time. I place my bets on life. I takes me chances.

Here's a little Wordsworth to ponder instead of ruminating about statistics. Personally, I'm cultivating the philosophic mind, whereas my husband is for splendor in the grass, especially after all the time he put into lawn care this weekend.

Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

1 comment:

Ann said...

Couldn't have said it any better.