Common Denominator

June 23, 2012

A wordset keeps running through my head. Common denominator. I know that, in so many words, I have said in previous posts that I’ve stopped looking for a reason but, with this latest diagnosis, I am wondering what combination of keys I must have hit to have won this cancer lottery again. The newfound relevance of this question has been piqued by the fact that I know, while not exactly small, I am part of an even more select group.

So what is it about us? Statistically, there must be something that binds us – there must be some indulgence or shortcoming that marked us for selection. It would just be a matter of asking enough questions – eventually we would find the common denominator.

In my work, I have the pleasure of editing any number of scholarly research papers and many of them are based on their fair share of quantitative data accumulated from surveys. Frankly, I would like to submit my own survey questions to a pool of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in the brain.

It would start like this:

1.      Do you have a history of breast cancer in your family?

2.      Did you bear children?

a.      Did you breastfeed your children?

3.      How many mammograms had you had prior to your diagnosis?

4.      Do you have fillings, implants, or other dental devices?

5.      Were you born prematurely, relatively on-time, or late?

6.      Were you breast or bottle fed?

7.      Prior to diagnosis, did you exercise regularly (3-5 times per week)?

8.      Do you crave sugar or sweets?

9.      Do you bite your fingernails?

10.   Do you wash your hands after toileting?

11.   Have you ever ridden a horse?

12.   Can you drive a car with a stick shift?

13.   Do you have to think to remember right from left?

14.   Can you hula hoop?

15.   Are you primarily right or left handed?

16.   Did you ever want to be a veterinarian?

17.   Do you hold a grudge?

18.   Who is your favorite Beatle?

19.   Was your first car new or used?

20.   How old were you when you had your heart broken the first time?

21.   Is your second toe longer than your first?

22.   Can you whistle?

23.   Is there a musical instrument you regret never learning to play?

24.   Do you ever wish you had a different name?

25.   At what age did you give up trying to avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk?

26.   Do you have a lucky number?

27.   Have you always lived within 100 miles of your birthplace?

28.   Can you tie nautical knots?

29.   Have you ever had a pet turtle?

30.   Can you dance the jitterbug or tango?

I’m guessing I’m not the only one that may recognize a problem with actually resolving this question.





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