One of the things you will discover when you find yourself in a situation like ours (and all of us find ourselves in this situation sooner or later, no exceptions) is wondering what the chances are. What are the percentages? What are the chances of, say, this particular chemo being effective? Or that surgery.
We have not dwelt on these percentages. But you may be curious about the odds.
When we left Sudan in early April of 1981 Cammie was 22 months old and we had been told by the doctor in Nairobi, Kenya her chances for survival were nil. That is, 100% that she would not survive. When we arrived at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston just days later and the diagnosis was confirmed they told us there had not been a single five year survivor of this cancer. Ever. But that did not mean they were without hope. They had a new chemo cocktail that they thought could be effective. After trying it for a couple of months and it seemed to be shrinking the tumor they were pleased to tell us that they felt her odds had increased to 40% (i.e. 60% that she would not survive).
She survived. We were all most pleased. After we passed the five year mark, they told us that simply because Cammie had had a childhood cancer of that variety, there was a 5 times greater likelihood than the average person that in her lifetime she would have some recurrence of some type of cancer. We were OK with that. We would take our chances.
When she had her next occurrence at age 19 (the tumor behind the bladder) there was simply not enough data on record to predict anything. Since she was in the first tier of survivors, ever, and since her variety of cancer was so rare (one in a million females, one to three years old), she was also in the first tier of recurrences.
And then this recurrence at age 24. At the onset Dr. Jaffe told us his best guess was that there was a 40% chance of surviving this one. That was last August. The chemo did not work. Then we did radiation. We were told that there was a 90% chance that the radiation would work. Well, it didn’t.
We have just been to Houston twice this week, met with the surgeon, and Cammie will have most if not all her right lung removed on June 1st. All this fellow does is lung surgery and 99% of his surgery is on lungs with cancer. Here is what we know. If he removes the whole lung there is a 5-10% mortality rate due to the surgery itself. If he removes most of the lung but leaves a part of it, the chances drop to 3-6%. But due to radiation the tissue of the lung is fragile and he is simply not certain until he gets in there what he will be able to save.
If she survives the surgery, the percentages are 30% that she will make it through this episode and have no further metastases.
You don’t see this much any more, but it used to be that when you sent a letter “in care of” someone else you would write it like this:
That % was used in the same manner as “c/o” (short for “in care of”), because c/o is three strokes on your keyboard and % is one.
So what do we think of all these percentages?
For us it is 100% God, our loving Father.