Sometimes people do beat the odds

In a recent post we explained how doctors work out their patients’ life expectancy after they have been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease. There is no crystal ball. An estimate of someone’s life expectancy is based on the average time that people survive with a particular disease. It’s also affected by any other health conditions they have and their age and well-being when they are diagnosed.

Doug Jackson was told that his life expectancy was little more than a year, and that only 10% of patients with mesothelioma survive for more than five years. ‘I’m a maths teacher, so numbers mean something to me,’ he says. ‘My wife Cindy and I had little hope at first. I wasn’t OK knowing I was probably going to die soon, but I was prepared mentally that it was going to happen.’ Doug took early retirement, sorted out his legal affairs, planned his funeral and decided who would speak at it.

You still look pretty good!

But Doug responded well to treatment. Five years later he says, ‘Cindy and I never thought we’d reach this point. Sometimes I’ll run into someone who I haven’t seen in quite a while, and they’ll say, “Gosh, you still look good.” I guess, considering I was supposed to be dead by now, I do look pretty good.’

‘Thank God for a family that has supported me,’ he says. ‘I haven’t made it easy for them, that’s for sure. For a couple of weeks before every CT scan, I’m a nervous wreck and hard to get along with.’

Beating the odds

Doug knows that he has beaten the odds so far. He believes an early diagnosis at a relatively young age has played a major role in his good fortune. ‘I really feel blessed to have made it this far,’ he says. It’s one reason why he now lives every day to the fullest.

This blog post is based on an article about Doug’s story which you can read on

Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Unsplash