Did the treatment work?

If you’re a tech geek, you probably read the webcomic xkcd.

If you’re not, you may not have heard of it. The cartoonist, Randall Munroe, made his doodles public in 2005. His tagline for the xkcd: “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

However, many of his cartoons might be better thought of as infographics. This is one of them.

Munroe drew this installment after his then-fiance/now-wife Megan had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Friend: So, are you guys out of the woods?
Cueball: We don’t know.
Friend: Well, did the treatment work?
Cueball: We don’t know.

Munroe juxtapositions a simple mental model of cancer treatment (the five-lane freeway) with a much more complex, and grim, model built around a 52-lane highway.

But the opening statement, that you never know if you’re “out of the woods,” may be the most difficult reality for a breast cancer patient to assimilate. Of course we all know, on some level, that we are mortal. A cancer diagnosis forces you to get up close and personal with that reality.

Check out Munroe’s books on Amazon

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