Brain tumor statistics – becoming a number
I visited the Brain Cancer Got Me Thinking Exhibit at the Visual Space Gallery in Vancouver. I, myself, am a brain tumor survivor, one of those brain tumor statistics I had heard about many years ago when I was diagnosed.
This particular exhibit was a showcase of art submitted by those selected to take part, and could have been from a brain tumor patient, family member, friend or health care professional.
Seeing all the amazing art pieces and reading their stories really gave me a sense of community, a sense of not being alone and not just being a number, a brain tumor statistic; but rather part of a larger group of people bound by a common thread.
I think that sometimes when you are diagnosed with a brain tumor, it can feel like you go from being a person with a name to becoming a number, a brain tumor statistic. And these statistics can be frightening at times.
I vividly remember Googling my tumor in the ER after being told, “You have a benign brain tumor called a colloid cyst” by the doctor.
The numbers jumped off the page at me. “Approximately three people per million receive a diagnosis of a colloid cyst each year1, 0.1-1% of all primary brain tumors are colloid cysts and 15-20% of all intraventricular masses are colloid cysts2. Where did that leave me and what did these numbers mean in my life?
Well, in reality it meant I had a pretty rare type of brain tumor residing in my head. But I had to figure out what the numbers were going to mean in my life.
For me, I found the numbers and statistics overwhelming especially when you wonder which pool I was going to fall into. The percentage of patients having this symptom, that side effect, this outcome, that prognosis. All relegated to a number. It was hard. Which side of the percentage was I going to fall? The “what-ifs. The uncertainty. Of a number.
After I had played the number game with my medical team, I came to the calm recognition that IT was a number. I was a person and not a number. So, I began to live again as a person, not guided by the numbers of recurrence and incidence and the ‘whatifs’ but more by the present moment. This is not always an easy thing to do and I sometimes catch myself and remind myself that the future is a mystery, which we cannot often predict, by a number.
And so, I realized that the present is the best place to be. That is why is it called the present (just like the one we open on our birthdays). It is a true gift!
Resources on Brain Tumor statistics
There are so many resources that I found during the course of my journey, especially in the early days when I was searching through the pile of information on things like brain tumor statistics, symptoms, outcomes and surgery. Here are a few that I found that talk about brain tumor statistics and facts:
Do you have any numbers in your life that play a big role for you each day – is there a way you could change the way they impact your reality in a positive way?