The start of dice rolling after my cancer diagnosis

I am not a gamer. I don’t go to the casino or play the lottery. I’m going to buy a raffle ticket for a good cause, but I don’t remember ever winning anything.

My breast cancer diagnosis changed everything.

This disease forced me to make nebulous choices based on quickly gathered facts, anecdotal stories and gut feelings. Almost overnight, I became a gamer. Even the clinical trials on which we often base our treatment choices rely on numbers, odds and probabilities. All of this reminds me of a good game of competitive poker on a Saturday night.

Male breast cancer, along with all other rare versions of this disease, presents a unique challenge for players in the game, as the numbers are lower and the visible history of limited research is also diminished.

I’ve often thought of the three oncologists I’ve employed since discovering cancer in my left breast, as players too – but not in a negative way. Healthcare professionals have access to the same clinical information we do if we’re willing to dig into research, but, in most cases, they’re much better equipped to access that data.

After all, they do this job for a living, while those of us with cancer just work for a living.

And so, we learn to trust the experts with our very lives. My personal bet began the day of my diagnosis, eight years ago. While the two oncologists I hired both recommended chemotherapy based on their understandable experience with male breast cancer, I had recently watched my wife slowly succumb to the ravages of breast cancer. stage 4 ovary, and this experience was still fresh in my mind. The oncologist estimated that I had an 80% chance of surviving five years with my stage and grade of cancer. Not a bad chance.

After much quick and personal research based mostly on anecdotal evidence since there were no clinical trials available for men, I placed my bet and chose to become a player.

If you follow the stories of other cancer patients, it’s easy to draw this parallel between surviving and betting on horses at the track. Every decision we make, since we have no cure for cancer, is a gamble. We place our bet and wait for the results. And if the cards are not in our favor, we move on to another game. After all, once we roll the dice, the numbers are no longer in our hands.

For someone outside of our Cancer world, this may all seem like a losing hand to begin with. It seems like a risk that can only seem futile and daunting. But I’ve learned to hold onto hope in this cancer shitty stunt by realizing that I have no control over the outcome once I spin the roulette wheel that guides my survival. Some will call us “lucky” when we outwit the odds, but to me, luck is just an observable sequence of numbers that gives us reason to remain optimistic.

I’m willing to bet we can all continue to have good luck, but more importantly, good results as we wait for a jackpot in our own “Cancer Casino”.

For more information on cancer updates, research and education, be sure to subscribe to CURE® newsletters here.

Comments are closed.