October 8, 2013 (Tues) – Dump Dumbo

OK, who would want to be so cruel to such a cute Disney character? Dump Dumbo? C’mon!


I guess I could just have easily said mash the mastodon. Or pummel the pachyderm. But Dump Dumbo had much better alliteration and probably got your attention quicker.

So why would anyone in their right mind advocate harming one of our Zoo’s biggest attractions? Stay tuned.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics. This is a quote often attributed to Mark Twain. Essentially this refers to the misuse of statistics to prove a weak point. Statistics can be useful, or useless, depending on the data being measured or supported/debunked. Heck, 88% of all statistics are stupid or meaningless. Oops.


Even though I loved math in high school, I despised the statistics class I had my freshman year of college. I can’t say I’m any more a fan of odds crunching these days either. Unless, of course, I’m at the sports book at the Belagio. But ever since my initial diagnosis almost 8 months ago (yes, hard to believe it was way back on lucky February 13th), I have avoided cancer statistics like the plague. Or I guess I should say like stage 4 lung cancer. Of course, at the very beginning I had to satisfy my thirst for learning everything I could about this affliction. And there was no way to avoid reading up on mortality rates of those in my fuzzy shoes. But after a few web surfing episodes and almost drowning in the waves, I figured that reading such junk was only going to hinder my healing.

When I first met my uncle-doc (gotta go way back to get that one), I naively asked him what stage of cancer I was. Like I should have known better, he said that, of course, I was stage 4. I guess he forgot that newbies like me had no clue at the time what the stages were, only that the higher the number, the worser it was. (I love to butcher grammar now and then). I never did ask him the proverbial “what are my chances” question. Didn’t really want that answer.

So here is where Dumbo comes in. I have never talked about statistics on this blog. Never thought there was a reason to. But I know, if you are anything like me, that what my outlook is for the future is always lurking in the back of the brain. The tumor-free brain at last check. You know you’ve Googled it, just like me. So this is kinda the elephant in the room, er, blog. So thus my wacky pachyderm.

This will be the one and only time I bring this topic to bear. Because it is a bear. OK, now I’m mixing up my animals. But I do this because I want it out in the open where it can then be buried once and for all. So here we go:

The fact that I am typing this blog means I have almost already beat the first statistic: of those diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, half don’t survive more than 8 months after diagnosis. Nanny-nanny. Gonna clobber that one. And odds (damn statistics again) say that I have less than a 10% chance of being around in 5 years. Sorry, gonna also skew that curve big time. Always figured hitting the top 10% was not a big deal. My wife reminds me that these statistics are bogus since they take everyone with this disease into the equation, no matter what age, whether they are a smoker or non-smoker, or have other health issues etc. So the fact that I am a reasonably healthy not-too-ancient non-smoker works in my favor. Plus the stats are always 3 years or so behind the times. And testing positive for the EGFR marker means that there may will be a new designer drug available in the future, similar to the Tarceva that is currently and miraculously holding things at bay.

So help me dump these numbers, never to see the light of day again. Kinda like the vision I learned once about opening up your head to expose your brain, turning on the bath faucet, and washing out all of the dark, gnarly junk. Stats are truly dark junk, and as far as I’m concerned, do not apply to me. Never will.

Dump Stats


Business as usual. Day at a time.


6 thoughts on “October 8, 2013 (Tues) – Dump Dumbo

  1. Thank you, God for saving one of the nicest guys on earth! Good idea to dump the statistics ~ the damage of the stress of carrying them around was apt to take your breath away….Buh bye Dumbo!

  2. Craig, my 86-year-old father was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis years ago, and he has far outlived the outside boundary of statistics that were boorishly proffered to us. I’m all for the Dump Dumbo campaign!!!

    • Solveig, thanks. Not trying to DIS Dumbo, however. 🙂 As Marilyn said, stats are for a group, not an individual. As such I am not holding any validity to them as far as I am concerned.

  3. And to be accurate, statistics only apply to the group not the individual, Unless odds are 100% on one side, there are always cases contrary to the trend. I say this as an unrepentant statistician:) Keep up the good fight!


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