Statistics – Beware the internet!

A word of warning!! well 3 words actually but it doesn’t matter as you will not listen to me, I wouldn’t listen and neither will you. My words of wisdom would be ‘beware the internet’!

Anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer in this ‘age of the internet’ will do what I did, which was search as much as you can for information. Another word of advice is only go onto trusted web sites (I use a lot) and don’t start looking for miracle cures as there are some wacky ideas out there. Steve Jobs (founder of Apple inc wasted years thinking that a macrobiotic diet would save him rather than drugs) he lost years of his life through this.

I remember when I was told it may be bowel cancer just before my colonoscopy. I waited until everyone was in bed and googled bowel cancer, I was horrified and quickly shut down the lid on my laptop. I couldn’t have bowel cancer, that shit was too scary to even think about. The next night I googled again and this went on most nights, alone and searching, firstly obsessed with signs and symptoms. These were quite reassuring as I didn’t have the classic symptoms, so there was still hope. As time went by I ventured onto the prognosis pages. Now these pages are dangerous.

Firstly at a high level, bowel cancer is a slow growing cancer and normally associated with more mature people, shall we say to be polite. There is a high of survival rate past 5 years if you are older, I think the age group given was 65+. However if you were younger, below 50 then the cancer is likely to be more aggressive and the survival rates drops to around 56%.

Now there were just 5 of us in ward 12 and 3 were more mature shall we say.  Karen and I were younger (I’m not giving Karen’s age away on here, that would be rude), So if you apply the statistics one of us won’t make it. Now that’s an awful thought. The other thing about statistics is that they don’t give you the whole picture. So of the 44% of the people diagnosed under 50 and died, how many died via other causes? The problem with numbers is that you can make them read how you want them too. With chemo, 40% of people don’t complete the full course of the treatment, I found that number shockingly high, but why do they not complete it? Is it too hard to go through? Is it that they are terminal and can’t see the point in spending whatever time they have left being ill and how many die through other causes whilst having treatment? See the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

You see statistics are not that simple as I am not just a number and neither is Karen who is on the same journey as me. If you apply the 56% rule, one of us might not make it and then who should that be? What if it’s neither of us and we both make it, happy days you think but that means that two other people under 50 that I don’t know won’t. That’s okay you say because we don’t know them but I can’t think like that. They would be no different to me or Karen in that they would probably have children, they would have friends and family that loved them and they would have suffered so much. It’s heartbreaking that anyone has to die through cancer or any other disease like cancer that completely takes over your life.

So the message is, do your research from trusted sites. You are not a statistic and you are better off waiting for actual concrete results from tests and then using the internet based on facts but you won’t listen as I didn’t. You will do it in private hiding your secret obsession from your loved ones. Pretending that you are oblivious to the statistics and the information you have read. The truth is that they have probably read what you have read but don’t want to scare you either. So you will all play the pretend game until you have formally been diagnosed. Then you cry, not at the words “you have cancer” but because you already know too much about what lies in store for you.



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Married to Steve, I have two children - Rebecca and Richard. Steve has two children, Lauren and Chris. Rebecca lives with us (nurse Rebecca) and my mom Judy also has become nurse and housekeeper but lives in the West Midlands. My son is in the Army and comes home when he can. I am 47, born in 1967 and I was told I had bowel cancer on 22nd Feb 2015 and this blog is my journey through it. I hope it helps you as you were the reason I started it.

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