Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Marriage and Cancer

First of all, let me express my now-annual disappointment at not being awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant. Even worse, they raised the amount given this year from $500,000 to $650,000. Frankly, I could have used both the money and the ego boost.

Even worse, there were no cancer-related geniuses named this year, no one who is showing us some new pathway to curing cancer. The closest we have is some guy who has found a way to make sure that people who need health care can get it, efficiently and effectively, while lowering costs.What the heck does that have to do with me?

So disappointing.

Meanwhile, a new study appearing in the Journal of Clinical Oncology shows that outcomes are better for cancer patients who are married. The researchers looked at data from over 700,000 people diagnosed between 2004 and 2008 with one of the ten most deadly cancers (including Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma). The numbers are kind of startling: "unmarried cancer patients, including those who were widowed, were 17 percent more likely to have metastatic cancer (cancer that spread beyond its original site) and were 53 percent less likely to receive the appropriate therapy." They speculate it's because married patients are more likely to have someone come to the appointment with them and ask question and remember important information. Probably true.

I think you can't discount the idea that you have a support system next to you. (Ideally, anyway -- you hear horror stories of people whose spouses just shut down and stop helping, but I like to think they are rare.)

Of course, I have my own excellent support system in my wife. She keeps me sane, asks questions, remembers stuff I don't (during doctors' appointments, and at lots of other times), and generally takes care of me.

And I was smart enough to marry her.

Which, I guess, makes me a genius.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree! in our case im the computer nerd as you termed it, i insisted a hematopathologist to reread his slides when it came out as benign, and the 2nd opinion dx the FL, 3rd opinion at MDA confirmed the dx, and i ask more questions than him during doctors appointment, and i have more updated info regarding his condition, therefore i think it definitely makes sense that married patients survive longer and better :) jeanne

Lymphomaniac said...

I guess the lesson is that you need someone to provide support in all kinds of ways. I think it's possible to build a support network that does all of the things a spouse can do -- doctor visit accompanying, but also an ear to listen and a face to smile and be encouraging. But having all of that wrapped up in one person is a whole lot more convenient. You husband is a lucky guy.

Anonymous said...

thank you !i hope he thinks he is a lucky man as i still nag him with petty stuffs like before his dx because i sometimes actually forget that he has this condition! also the CT scan result is promising, everything is stable, and blood work is normal, when will be your next scan i dont remember in which post you mentioned about an upcoming check up or scan? - Jeanne