Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics


Yesterday I had my first session of reflexology.  It was A.Maz.Ing.  I floated out of the room with my feet supported by pixies carrying them on little pillows of air.  Seriously.  I did.  I then loafed around on the sofa, went to bed early and slept the sleep of the innocent.  Never let it be said I do not know how to live.

This whole day, despite being full of very little, provided me with almost twenty four hours of not thinking about my results.  You see, try as I might, practised as I am, I still spend much time pondering them.  I try not to.  But they sort of sneak up on me.  I may be immersed in an episode of Downton Abbey only to be confronted with Mrs Hughes, the housekeeper, anxiously waiting for results from a possible breast cancer.  Excellent.  I had forgotten that wee story line so it was delightful to be reminded of it.  And then I can be doing something utterly unrelated and find myself inadvertently repeating ‘69% survival rate at 5 years’.  Brilliant.

But on that score, at least, I have news.  In the spirit of all things being proved or disproved with statistics, I have been doing some digging.  The Nottingham Prognostic Index which scored me at 4.3 and gave me the aforementioned 69% chance of survival, is pretty ancient these days.  I do not know how accurate it is.  I suspect it still has credibility as it is still being used.  However, I am preferring to go with the Predict tool which gives me a much more acceptable score of 94% chance of survival at 5 years and 85% at 10.


This info is based on the pathology report from my mastectomy.  There is much that is confusing regarding my original results as the initial diagnosis of multifocal cancer seems to be very far from the truth.  I am beginning to suspect that my results were muddled with someone else’s.  Which is more than a little concerning.  What is certain is that all of the cancer (a grade 2 tumour of 15mm) was removed.

All of this makes it tricky to predict anything, and anyway, is anything certain?  Except God.  And once again I am back with Teresa d’Avila: ‘God never changes … those who have God find they lack nothing.  God alone suffices.’