I want to be in the tail

No, that’s not in an aircraft on my next holiday – though that would be good, too, being statistically the safest.

Statistics. Usually a dirty word, but I’ve found a fabulous piece of writing by Stephen Jay Gould about his cancer and how he interpreted the statistics. Everyone with cancer ought to read The Median isn’t the message. This backed up some of my own thinking.

Just to give you a bit of an introduction, the scientist Stephen Jay Gould was diagnosed with cancer in his thirties and given 8 months to live. He lived a further 20 years, and died of another cancer unrelated to the first.

You’ve probably seen charts, like the one I’ve roughly mocked up here, showing life expectancy on diagnosis of various cancers?

Mock up cancer life expectancy chart

Mock up cancer life expectancy chart

The natural assumption when viewing one of these is to go for the ‘median’ (shown as A). On diagnosis we’ve had a terrible shock, and to err on the glum side is only natural. So, we’ve only got five years to live – or have we?

What about all those people way down in the blue section? Hey – hang on a minute! Down at ‘B’ everyone has died of the cancer, but we’re talking 20 years hence. Time to get another deadly disease altogether, or get run over by a bus!

My ambition is to push my personal profile down into what Stephen Jay Gould calls ‘the tail’ of the chart, by really pushing my personal fitness to as perfect as I can get it i.e. correct BMI, good mental attitude, plant-based diet and as few pollutants (caffeine, alcohol) as possible.

Please read the article, The Median isn’t the message. It’s full of hope, and written by a world renowned scientist, so I feel if it was good enough for him, it’s good enough for me!

I don’t believe I can cure my cancer, but I DO believe I can control my position in the chart. It’s in the ‘tail’ for me!