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.