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Tick-Tock Goes Cancer’s Clock

October 13, 2013


By Gerald Green

In my world, cancer constantly expands the denominator and death constricts the numerator, and for those who have forgotten−numerator over denominator. We numerators all have had a unique cancer diagnosis, while the denominator represents all cancers. Doctors tell numerators surviving cancer five years post treatment is considered a statistical cure.

            Fortunately for numerators the Bay Area is home to the writer’s group, “Cancer In Other Words,” where numerators collectively help each other heal emotionally while traversing landscapes littered with radiation, chemo, and surgery choices. At our writer’s group we respond to prompts such as a bowl of pills, a word (smile) or sometimes a series of pictures that propel us to exotic lands where our souls find peace when we read our writings to each other, transforming our four walls into a spiritual journey.

             At a recent writer’s session a fellow numerator celebrated her fifth year post breast cancer treatment with cake−a re-birthday of sort, and another numerator announced his 10th year  surviving colorectal cancer. We numerators like counting by “5s.”

            Some numerators have survived multiple cancers and count by “5s” using synchronized clocks. For example, my first clock started ticking in 1995 for tongue cancer, the second one started in 1997 for neck cancer, and my third clock started ticking in 2008 for prostate cancer.

            Tick-tock, the California Department of Public Health anticipates approximately 144,800 new cancer cases in 2013. Tick-tock, they forecast a relative five year survival rate of 69% for  cancers detected early and even higher survival in some cases. Tick-tock, please discuss your cancer risk factors with your doctor, and if cancer crosses your path−we numerators welcome you to our cadence−5, 10, 15, 20−tick-tock. 

With a perspective I’m Gerald Green

Gerald Green is a retired gas engineer and an author who lives in Oakland. His memoir Life Constricted: To Love, Hugs and Laughter chronicles his family’s cancer journeys.



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