Perk # 77: Cancer Forced Me To Brush Up On My Math Skills

Math has never been my strong point.   So you can imagine my confusion when I started to investigate the statistics around breast cancer.  There were stats for incidence, survival rates, recurrence rates, and lots of other numbers that made little sense to me.  I really wanted to understand what I was getting myself in to with this cancer thing, so I asked my daughter, an honours math student, to do a little tutorial with me  before I set off to decipher the numbers.  Imagine, if not for cancer, I would have gone through life with less than adequate math skills!

The first stat I found was rather daunting.   Stage 3 breast cancer yields just over a 50%  five year survival rate.  But wait, the news gets better.   By exercising, I can reduce my risk of recurrence by nearly 40%.  I’m a runner, so YAY for me!  Believe it or not, the younger you are at the time of diagnosis, the lower your chances of survival, so being diagnosed after the age of 40 ups my odds of surviving by another 3%.  Yet another encouraging study found that a healthy diet resulted in as much as a 30% decrease in the risk of death following a cancer diagnosis.  I am happy to report that since January, I have embraced  a healthy, cancer fighting diet.

Now, bear with me while I do the math:

50% chance of survival overall

Plus 40% for exercising

Plus 3% for age at diagnosis

Plus 30% for a good diet.

If my calculations are correct, my odds of surviving breast cancer are: 123% (plus or minus 10% for drinking red wine.  Scientists can’t agree on whether  it is good for me or bad for me.  But just in case, I take a folic acid supplement.)


Tip:  DO NOT  get too caught up in the stats when you have cancer, they can be  misleading. You are not a statistic.  DO everything you can to improve your chances of survival through exercise, a healthy diet, and reading my blog……I mean maintaining a positive attitude.

4 thoughts on “Perk # 77: Cancer Forced Me To Brush Up On My Math Skills

  1. That is such a good point to not get too caught up in the numbers because each person is unique – their cancer is different, their body chemistry is different, they respond to treatment differently. Numbers can be WAY too discouraging to get hung up on them. Great post, Flo!

  2. I was glad I was poor in math when they read me my statistics…because I think that if I had been able to comprehend my stats, I would have probably given up. Lucky for me, math and a sense of direction are not in my repertoire of talents. But seeing the world through rose-colored glasses and the glasses as 1/2 full 🙂 and wanting to smile more than frown, helped me to stay positive, happy and grateful. Stay positive! That’s your best statistic!! It’s been working WONDERS for me for the last 10 years! xoxo

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