The Numbers

Recent figures show that 50% of people diagnosed with cancer in the UK now survive for 10 years or more.  Cancer survival is improving and has doubled in the last 40 years.  People are living 10 times longer after their diagnosis than 40 years ago.  This is really great news for a disease that used to be considered an automatic death sentence.  This is no longer so – the numbers speak for themselves!

But my next thought on reading this was, ‘Which side of the 50% statistic will I be on?’. And it struck me that, for someone who wasn’t that strong on maths at school, how important numbers have become in my life since diagnosis.

Looking back, I can see the numerology began pre-diagnosis – counting how many days a week I was experiencing symptoms, moving to how many times a day.  And then after the visit to the GP, it was a hospital appointment within the 2-week rule for suspected cancer.  And how many hours awake in my hospital bed in the middle of the night wondering which direction my future would take. 999 other people in the UK were diagnosed with cancer on the same day as me – I wonder what their numbers will be and my heart goes out to them. There are more than 200 types of cancer, and I have become 1 of the 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK.

The next milestone of numbers was very likely to predict my future – the staging of my illness.  Was my cancer a stage 1, 2, 3, or 4?  And then it turns into the treatment numbers – how many cycles of chemo and how many ‘fractions’ (yes the healthcare professionals really do use the term fractions!) of radiotherapy.  As time goes on, how many months between appointments and how long between scans.

The numbers may try and dictate my life – but sure as heck, I’m not letting them count me out just yet!

Leave a Comment