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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!

About the author: Andrew Schorr is a medical journalist, cancer survivor and founder of Patient Power, a one-of-a-kind company dedicated to bringing in-depth information to patients with cancer and chronic illness. Audio and video programs, as well as transcripts, help patients make informed decisions to support their health in partnership with their medical team.

Patient Power is at www.PatientPower.info and on Facebook. Schorr is also the author of “The Web Savvy Patient: An Insider's Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis."

Edited by Malu Banuelos

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.