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Beating the 50/50 Odds

By Anonymous
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Cancer related image Photo: Getty Images

No doubt you’ve heard Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt teamed up to bring you a “bromance” of a movie called “50/50.” Levitt plays a Seattle public radio producer whose back pain turns out to be a rare cancer and has a 50/50 chance of surviving. You’ll have to buy a ticket to find out if he survives, but I bet he will.

As I have written before, the ranks of survivors are growing and, happily, awareness of cancer -- however uncommon among young adults -- is growing too.

As you can imagine, such a diagnosis upends your life. You may have seen my article on EmpowHER recently about Barbara Padilla, a promising singer featured on “America’s Got talent” who triumphed over the rare Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

What I neglected to mention is how she beat the odds just as I suspect Gordon-Levitt’s character does. For Barbara, the odds were that radiation would damage her vocal cords or her salivary glands making a singing career impossible, which didn’t happen. And then there were the odds against her that a bone marrow transplant would be successful.

Doctors told her that her body was too weak and that this last-ditch effort was a long shot. Not only did the transplant work, it worked incredibly well.

My point about all this is, you are not a statistic. You are you with a specific form of an illness and perhaps a very unique and surprising way of responding to treatment. That’s becoming the basis of what we are calling “personalized medicine” today.

So when a doctor says the odds are 50/50 or worse that you will get well, do not give up. You have to be realistic, but don’t give up. That’s part of what I am sure the “50/50” movie says and what Barbara Padilla says in an inspiring interview I recently did with her.

You can hear her words and hear her sing (thank God her voice was spared!) in this program: Barbara Padilla: My Triumph Over Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at http://goo.gl/3gfSG

Although I am not a shill for any movie studio, I probably will see “50/50.” The critics and moviegoers so far like it and I agree, even with cancer, you have to keep a sense of humor. That’s a tool to beat the odds too!

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