Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Cancer Lottery

Anyway, the last three days have been spent with our friend the Inpatient in a Northern Ontario Hospital's Oncology Ward. His prognosis has been downgraded since he first got diagnosed with leukemia. However, it isn't as bad as we had heard. For some reason, we were told that he had two years left to live at best, but he's actually got a 40% chance of beating the disease altogether.

A lot of what he does is waiting- it's really what the rest of us are doing as well. His sisters are being tested to see if they're good matches for a bone marrow transplant. If so, his odds of survival increase dramatically. Each sister has a 25% chance of being a match, and there are four sisters, so he apparently has a 2/3rds chance of finding a donor. If none of them is a match, they have to start searching the bone marrow registry, where the chances are a lot worse. This is a lot like the lottery, but more nerve wracking.

Our friend is doing well overall and handling things a lot better than I would. We're praying for him, but I don't really believe in God, so who knows who's receiving my prayers!

4 comments:

gregvw said...

I'm no statistician, but I do know a thing or two about probability theory and frankly, I hate it when people posit the probability of a certain outcome, when in my experience the prediction is typically useless. Example: There is a 40% chance of rain.

From what I know about probability, I should expect that out of all of the days where the forecast suggests a 40% chance of rain, somewhere between a third and half of them should have rain. In actuality the incidence rate seems to be one in ten or twelve.

We must be comforted by having probabilities assigned to things when a truly accurate estimate is unavailable. Why else do it?

Hiromi said...

Nothing deep to say, just hope your friend gets better!

And that's depressing about the Canadian cityscape. It's funny how a capitalist society can produce something as drab and dreary as anything found in former Communist countries.

Anonymous said...

Can you guys clone a sheep or something?

Just playing it funny :)

I hope your friend recovers and goes to heaven.


Mirna

Rufus said...

Greg,
That's sort of what I thought actually. I'd rather just wait and see what happens when they test their blood.

Hiromi,
Me too. As for Canadian towns- well, Canada's supposedly a bunch of socialists, so they have an excuse. But America should ask themselves who won the Cold War.

Mirna,
I hope so too. But hopefully with a very long gap between the two!