Kudos to José de Cordova and Ezequiel Minaya for getting us the most comprehensive, digestible overview yet of what we know about Chávez’s battle with cancer. According to their reporting, chances are that what the president has is Stage 2 or Stage 3 colon cancer. If that’s the case, there’s a 70-95% chance he’ll still be around five years from now.
Even in the worst case scenario – Stage 4 – Chávez is still probably measuring his remaining time among us in years, not months. Cancer treatment has come a long long way in recent years, and we’re now to the point where most cancers can be gotten into remission. Once. And after they’ve gone into remission, they can stay in remission for years – allowing patients to live really quite well.
I think there’s an inbuilt tendency for people to be unduly pessimistic about cancer survival rates: after all, most of us base what we (think we) know about cancer on the stories of people close to us who’ve had it. But often those stories will be 5 or 10 or 15 years out of date and, in a field like this, that’s an eternity.
“Metastasis,” in particular, used to rhyme with “te fregaste”. No longer. With new, new generation chemo, advanced-stage cancer that would certainly have killed you in a few months if you’d gotten it 10 years ago is now quite often survivable for several years.
So it’s best to be clear about it: years, not months.