"Our soul must perform two duties. The one is that we must reverently wonder and be surprised. The other is that we must gently let go and let be." Julian of Norwich

...Cancer teaches both!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009


gno-sis. from Grk gnsis, knowledge, from gignskein, to know;
di-a-gno-sis n., pl. -ses The act or process of identifying or determining the nature and cause of a disease or injury through evaluation of patient history, examination, and review of laboratory data.
pro-gno-sis n., pl. -ses A prediction of the probable course and outcome of a disease.

For many of us the cancer journey begins with a "diagnosis". On the basis of various signs and symptoms, and with the help of scans, tests, and biopsies, our doctors will seek “to know” what is going on. Life before a cancer diagnosis (BC) can range from “blissful ignorance” to “anxious worry” depending on the signs and symptoms we experience beforehand. For myself, I was blissfully ignorant. Apart from some periodic blood in my stool I was symptom free. The bliss of “not knowing” came crashing to an end on August 23, 2004 after a colonoscopy revealed a large “mass”. Surgery conducted that same evening confirmed cancer. Life after diagnosis (AD) would be different.


Determining the “Stage” of cancer is part of the diagnosis. Staging has to do with “knowing” how far the cancer has gone. In cancers like colon cancer it works something like this…
Stage 1 Non-invasive Local Tumour
Stage 2 Locally Advanced Tumour
Stage 3 Lymph nodes affected
Stage 4 Metastatic (liver, lung, brain, bone, etc.)
Staging can be a long, drawn-out process, or it can happen literally overnight, such as in my situation. During my surgery the surgeon was able to feel suspicious lumps in my liver. Biopsy results confirmed his suspicion that the cancer had spread to the liver. Stage 4!!


"Prognosis" is another type of “knowing” having to do with the future direction of the cancer. Actually, it is more like “guessing” than “knowing”. A simple prognosis is often based on the statistical averages observed in the progression of the disease over a large population. This turns out to be “less than helpful” since statistics, in and of themselves, are poor indicators of individual behaviour. The outcome of an illness has to do with many things related to the particulars of the cancer and the individual involved. Predictions are not easy to make and are rarely helpful. My surgeon gave me the statistics but declined to make a prognosis. Instead he referred me to another surgeon who could take care of the tumours in my liver. Now that was helpful!!

TTFN... Rob

“Accept the diagnosis. Defy the prognosis!”

originally posted June 2007


Anonymous said...

I am learning a lot about the stages of cancer, and the termenology used. Your cite is very informational.
Keep up the great work dad!

Colin said...

Hi Rob,
When Beth told me you had a blog I thought it was wonderful news. So happy you are writing and educating us all on what it is all about.
I have been involved on the Run For The Cure committee here for 4 years. The stories of the women and men both on our committee and as participants has been immensely moving, educational, and joyful for me. It has really opened my eyes. The fleet of emotions that I have experienced is overwhelming.

God bless and I can't wait to meet you all at the end of June!! :-)

Anonymous said...

It is good to read this again. There is just so much information to take in about the stages and progression of cancer. Being that it is an inexact science Doctors may be reluctant to share. But knowledge is power.

Love reading you blog,