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. But don’t be discouraged as there are effective cancer treatment and care services that can help you overcome this barrier. 

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?



brain tumor statistics