Thursday, June 24, 2010

The odds

C-3PO: Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3720 to 1.
Han Solo: Never tell me the odds.

Following our meeting with the oncologist on Monday, my mind has been fixated on odds: "one in three". According to the statistics, one out of three patients who have cancer similar to Kolbjorn's will have their tumors controlled (the oncologist's term) by radiation and chemotherapy. According to the statistics, two out of three will succumb to the cancer (again, the oncologist's term) despite treatment. According to the statistics, three out of three who do not have treatment will succumb. According to the statistics.

Mark Twain: There are three kinds of lies - lies, damned lies, and statistics.

The treatments will not be easy. The radiation will likely cause some swelling in the brain, increasing pressure in the head, possibly bringing back the headaches and nausea that led us to take him to the ER in the first place. There may be fatigue and hair loss, and when the hair grows back it may not be the same as before. They will also be giving him vincristine at the same time, which may also cause nausea and hair loss. There will be daily X-ray scans, and weekly CT scans. There will be a spinal tap at some point, in order to determine if any cells from the original tumor have moved into the spinal column. There are serious long-term effects ("late toxicity", in the oncologist's words) from the radiation that are even more pronounced for younger patients - damage to the pituitary gland (requiring growth hormone therapy), damage to the vertebrae in the spine (causing his torso to not be in proportion to the rest of his body), increased risk of secondary cancers in bone or blood vessels, risk of cataracts, risk of cognitive or memory impairment. It may even be necessary to decide whether to risk damage to the optic nerve (causing permanent loss of vision), in order to properly irradiate the tumor area, or risk not giving the area enough radiation in order to spare the optic nerve.

Kol is going to beat the odds. In spite of all the pain and damage that may come with the treatment, he will survive, and he will thrive. He will beat the odds. He will be the one in three.


  1. Angela FriggstadJune 25, 2010 at 8:18 AM

    I know he will do it!

    If you ever want to talk to someone who has been through something quite similar, my sister has a friend whose son had a very rare brain tumor as well and was given those same kind of odds. And he just graduated from high school! His mom is very open and would be more than willing to share their experience.

    We continue to pray for Kol and for your entire family. I wish we could be in Outlook tonight but know that we are there in spirit.

  2. You are right! He will survive and he will thrive - I can feel it too! Mrs. W

  3. When I read about Outlook tonight, I was ready to jump the gun and come down for the service. However, I work tonight, that's the only thing in the way. Although I cannot be there, I continue to pray for Kol and for the entire family, and that while the 7:30 service is going on, I will be praying.

  4. Jake & JoanneJune 26, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    It is hard to read the harsh reality of the medical treatment for your little Kol, we continue to pray for him and with you we pray for healing.