Statistics Suck

Photo by Redwood 1 on Flickr

Dissing stats is a hard thing for me to do.  You see, by day, I’m a strategist for my company.  I thrive on numbers.  Trends, demographics, psychographics, performance metrics.  I live by stats.  But I refuse to die by them.

While doing online research at the Cleveland Clinic site, I came across a statistic that hit me like a sucker punch to the gut:  50% of people diagnosed with IPF live another four years.  50-50.  The flip of a coin. Those are my chances of seeing even one of my kids graduate college.

That single sentence brought me to my emotional knees.  It was the first full breakdown I’ve had since all this started.  But it felt good in a red-eyed, runny nosed, sobby, hiccuppy kind of way.  While I’m all about keeping strong and positive, I also know the only way to slay fear is to face it head on.  Tamping it down, ignoring it, pushing it away only lets it gain strength in the shadows.

So after a good shuddering cry, I started to roll that number around in my head.  50-50.  That means I have just as good a chance of living beyond four years — well beyond even. I have youth in my favor (hah, never thought 50 would be “young”), a crack medical team, loads of wonderful friends all over the country praying for me and sending positive energy, a strong supportive family, and a steadfast belief that four years simply isn’t enough time to complete everything I still have to do.

My brother-in-law is a cardiologist in New Jersey.  As we talked last night, I told him about the stat I’d found.  He said he never shares mortality statistics with his patients because they really aren’t relevant when you get down to the individual.  There are too many other factors — attitude, the patient’s commitment to work hard and consistently on his/her own behalf, the availability of research protocols, other health issues, etc.

So, while statistics may help me determine the best way to improve sales for my company, I refuse to let a flip of the coin decide how much time I have left.  Time to go kick some PF ass.