Tuesday, January 16, 2007

“Very Pleased”

To hear my father tell it, the title of this post is the verbatim summary assessment of his oncologist, Dr. Canin (click to see his Kaiser profile; I’ve been mispelling his name for weeks), concerning the results of my dad’s latest CAT scan. The pulmonary tumor has reduced in size. By how much? I don’t know. And the metastases? Again, I’m in the dark—as is my mother. For unfathomable reasons, my father is being extremely circumspect in his recounting of his discussion today with Dr. Canin. Even my mother had not heard of the “very pleased” declaration until I persisted for details from my father in her presence. (She was very pleased, too.)

Be that as it may, the news is good. Though it does not mean my father will be up and around, going to his office anytime soon. Any celebration should be guarded. The tumor is still there. It has only become smaller. The metastases almost certainly are still there, too. Odds are, he as just gained some time. How much? It’s anybody’s guess. The statistics are still damning: Just over one of three is alive twelve months after original diagnosis; 1 in 20 twenty–four months after. My dad’s original diagnosis was already over two months ago.

So, to what do I attribute his recent spate of ‘bad days’? Who knows? Anyone who has studied statistics is aware that by chance there can be clusters of samples [events] which, when viewed within a localized or constrained context, appear anomalous in their frequency of occurrence. Such is often the case with purported cancer clusters, for example. It could be that next he has two weeks of great days. In the end, it is the average (both the mean and mode, in this case) tendency that is meaningful.

Thus we rejoice a little. We celebrate a little. But for not one minute do we forget, do we become indulgent nor complacent. There is still very little time to waste—if any. Every day, every moment is precious. As they should all be, anyway.

Please keep those fingers and toes crossed.

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