Friday, November 21, 2008

The Statistical Individual (i.e. an oxymoron)

I just found out last night that the daughter-in-law (basically—you know how complicated modern relationships are) of a friend has breast cancer. She was diagnosed at Stage 3, with three tumors in her breast and lymph nodes infected as well. Her doctors recommended a plan of attack and told her she has about a 50% chance of survival. Rather than start her treatments immediately, she instead flew to Chicago for a weekend to watch one of her daughters graduate from boot camp. The doctors did not think this was such a good idea.

I, on the other hand, think it was great. Life is, after all, for living. And watching your daughter graduate is a big deal. And I also want to point out, as I believe I have before, that the statistic her doctors quoted her—that she has a 50% chance of survival—does not actually apply to her. Statistics are very useful in determining a trend, but say not a single thing about the individual. She is 100% alive while she's alive—and that's really the only important thing to think about.

Not one of my doctors has quoted statistics at me this summer, which I've appreciated. It may just be that they didn't think I was going to survive anyway, and so why bother; I don't know. But I do know I wouldn't have cared.

1 comment:

Jen B said...

Bravo! To her, to you, and to a perspective on statistics that is real and tangible and meaningful. Love and Hugs to you!