What odds?

I just heard that another person in my med school class was diagnosed with cancer.

What is with that?

I feel like we should be a part of some sort of weird study or something.   Or that there is an unspoken “hit us” sign somewhere.

And no, I am not making light of the situation.  It sucks.

I mean, what are the odds?

There aren’t that many of us.  Something like 8% of our class in 6 years have had a new diagnosis.

That being said, I also know two people that I grew up with who both died of brain tumors in the last year.

No wonder people think cancer is getting more common.  And it is, kind of.  But also, the population is getting bigger and we are living to be older.

I found a whole report on the issue from the SEER data.

There was an increase in the incidence young adult cancers in the 70s-2000s, but now, apparently rates have declined slightly back to the incidence in the 70s.

Only 2% of invasive cancers occur in the 15-30 year old age group.  2%!!  That is it.

Some days it feels like more.  Today is one of those days.

I guess that is what anyone who gets cancer or any disease thinks.  It has to happen to someone, but we tend to ask, “why me?”  But, why them?

It doesn’t seem fair.

But then again, cancer isn’t fair.

The good piece is that many young adult cancers are very treatable.  Curable even in many.

There is still room to improve on things.

That is why I do what I do.

I think.

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8 thoughts on “What odds?

  1. Cancer does indeed suck and it sure does seem as if instances are higher today, whether that is the case or not. I am surrounded by various diagnosis amongst my friends as well. I remember when my mother had cancer years ago (4 years cancer free now) she started with ‘why me’ and ended up on ‘why not me?’.

    • I like that, the transition from ‘why me’ to ‘why not me.’ Very interesting.
      I did some reading around this topic and the incidence of some cancers is higher, but a lot of it is due to improved screening and early detection. In some cases, it is that people live longer with their cancer, so it seems there are more cancers when the incidence is the same. Skin cancers are more frequent, though.
      Epidemiology is not my strong point, but it is strange how something seems more common, especially when people close to you are being affected.

  2. That is strange. I would be bothered by it too. It would maybe add to the hypothesis that stress contributes to the likelihood of getting cancer, wouldn’t it? I must say that my class hasn’t had this problem, but there was a time in high school that I felt like everyone I knew was getting cancer. We do have the problem of kids in our med school contracting TB though. Which of course is a lot more preventable.

    • I agree, it does seem to add to the stress and cancer hypothesis.
      Wow, I didn’t know anyone in high school with cancer. I can’t imagine what that was like to deal with at that age.
      TB is a lot more preventable, but it is a big problem. Especially when, as you wrote about earlier, things like N95 masks are not always around (not that they are perfect) and so many people have TB in the population. Still, it is not a pleasant thing to contract and I’m sure it is always in the back of everyone’s head.

  3. There is nothing more sad than when children and young people get cancer. I am a cancer survivor but I was well in my 50s when I got it. I had a good life so it was different than a 10 year old contracting it. I wish we could redirect all the money used for war into cancer research and get some better resolutions. Good luck to your classmate.

    • I agree it is really sad when children or young people get cancer. But, the bright side is that most children do so well! I feel like sometimes we brush off when people get cancer at an older age because they have had a good life, but really, they (like you) have lots of life left to live too. Just different proportions, which makes the young people seem less fair by times.
      The great piece is that we have made so much progress that you (congratulations) and many others get to say they are survivors and come out on the other side!
      I wish we could redirect that money too. It disturbs me at times how we waste in some areas instead of helping where the need is so great.

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