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CT Scan Results: Hanging Steady

Posted by on July 12, 2012 in My Health Updates - 37 Comments
With my dad and younger brother, Patrick, at Big Cano

Sitting in a restaurant booth in Savannah with Kate and my folks nearly two weeks ago, I was arranging a collection of pills to swallow. They counted in the low teens and created a little rainbow on the tabletop. The waitress thought I was eating Skittles and wanted to know if I’d like to order a desert. The pills numbered a little higher than usual, and added a bright pink tablet to the rainbow, as I’d come down with an upper respiratory infection. I blame Josie. Poor little girl was hacking a few days before I came down with it, and I’d failed to have the foresight to make her sleep in the garage until her cold passed. The antibiotics and steroids prescribed by a local doctor in Savannah failed to address the wheezing that I was experiencing. Which is why I’d gone to see him in the first place. I still have the wheeze, accompanied by a kind of congestion of the airways when I expend too much energy. I run around with an inhaler now. Yeah, like that kid, the one who gets picked on in all the movies. (Except it’s Dena who picks on me.) The inhaler does help, though. However, the wheezing has been making me nervous. That, and a sudden onset of some more intense side effects.

All the past week, after returning from vacation in Georgia, I’ve been fighting some serious nausea, stomach pains, chest pains and the ongoing back/shoulder pain from the pinched nerve. Which is weird because I was feeling pretty energetic while on vacation in Big Canoe, a mountain resort in the Appalachian foothills where the family was taking our annual July 4th vacation. I’m reminded now of what the pharmacist had said when I picked up the steroids in the days before leaving for Big Canoe: These are going to (A) make you irritable and (B) unreasonably energetic. I could see my mother physically tense up: My god, the last thing we need is for a bunch of steroids making him more of an irritable and hyperactive freak than he already is. The pharmacist offered this parting advice: “When you feel yourself getting angry with somebody or something, don’t act on it; walk away and count to ten. Also, ignore the impulse to start new projects, like painting the house or cleaning out the garage — the energy is manufactured. You’ll wear yourself down.” Probably good advice. Which I ignored. I played ridiculous amounts of golf in record-breaking heat while at Big Canoe on our vacation. Which resulted in ridiculous amounts of irritation when I would snap-hook my drives into the woods.

Which, I think, may explain the crash this week. I found myself feeling seasick in a taxi more than once, worrying that I’d vomit on the driver and whether that would require an increased tip.

In any case, I went in for scans today and the results were positive — well, positive compared to my usual results: stable disease. I’ve not had a positive scan result — a result where there wasn’t disease progression — since IL-2 treatments back in 2009. Admittedly, we decided to take the scans early after starting the Inlyta regimen — it’s only been a month that I’ve been taking the drug. Nonetheless, we were happy with the results. At NCI we saw progression after just a few weeks. The next scan will be insightful; if we still have stable disease, I think we’ll have finally hit upon something that may be working. Of course, I’d rather see disease regression — shrinkage of the tumors — but at this point simple stability is a blessing.

Dr. Hammers suggested the nausea and pains could be a result of the Inlyta side effects culminating in my body. Some people don’t experience the worst of the side effects for weeks or months; others experience it up front and adapt. I figure I’ll adapt soon enough. He said he could find no specific disease-related explanation for the rattling in my chest. There is no tumor obstruction, which was my primary concern. He theorized it could be inflammation caused by the IL-15 treatments, and suggested I try an inhaler with steroids. Everybody is trying to pump me with steroids. Perhaps this is because of the fact that I’ve lost a fair amount of weight lately: six pounds since last month’s visit.

“You’re already a skinny guy, right?” Dr. Hammers observed.

I pumped my pecs. “Uh, yeah, I guess. I prefer athletic or wiry.”

“You can’t afford to lose this weight,” he said. “Eat anything you can. Like ice cream.”

On the way out I reached for the door in a way that would allow me to flex my biceps. “Thanks, Dr. Hammers.” I shook his hand squeezing hard and showing the veins in my forearms … nothing.

Our nurse observed the same thing about my weight. I told her I was drinking protein shakes. “Forget the protein,” she said. “Focus on calories. You have my blessing: eat junk and lots of it.”

I’m reminded of how Marlon Brando ballooned up to something like 300 pounds eating a tub of ice cream every day. Tomorrow I’m going on a grocery binge. Doublestuff Oreos. Pop Tarts. Three or four different kinds of gooey ice cream. Chips and salsa. Canisters of whipped cream. Brownies. Brownie ice cream. Brownie cookies. Brownie pizza. Red velvet cake. Chocolate chip cookies.

If you’ve got ideas, I’m all ears. Please, no vegetables.

 

  • Mike Venable

    Cinnamon pretzels from Auntie Anne’s and cinnamon rolls from Cinnabon. Hang tough, brother. Hey to Dena, too. I’m on my way to M. D. Anderson on Saturday. New team of docs. This time it is the adrenal gland. Damn!

  • Jpaine1

    First, great picture. Second, I often feel like vomitting in DC cabs. Third, for months I have been telling dena to make you chocolate milkshakes at every meal and pour them down your throat while you sleep.

    • Dena Battle

      oh…I thought you said pour them down MY throat…

  • Bonnie Walsh

    I continue to remember you and Dena in prayer every day, Chris!  Thanks for keeping us up to date on your progress and stable is GOOD!!

  • betty roddy

    Hi Criss, So sorry I have not written lately, been too hot for the computer, I was given some bad medicine which I was allergic to, it was a heart med.. Heart DR gave it to me without knowing…..it had been in my system since January and finally got me down in March.
    I never thought of what it would do to my body. by April, I had fallen 4 times in one week, had halusinations….lost appitite, didn’t eat for 4 weeks, finally slept for days on end,,,,I finally got to the point of not walking forgot how……Daughters sent me to hospital for a week…from there to rehab for another 4 weeks……..lost some memory as well.
    I still think of you and Dena and kids…..hope they are doing good……by the way I weighed 150 until I took this medication…..I now weigh 132………I am also trying to eat because of my mussels have droped and I look like I need Ironed…….
    Praying for you Chris…….You’re doing good! staying alive, and that’s important.

    Hugsss,Bett

    • Chris Battle

      I’m sorry to hear about all that you’re going through, Betty. Our prayers are with you, too.

  • Mary Pendaries

    Greetings from a rainy and ridiculously cool UK, Chris ! Good to read your (as always …) humorous update and to hear that those chest symptoms are nothing sinister and all is stable.  As someone else said, stable is GOOD.  And, who knows, next time you might well see the shrinkage.  In the meantime, keep eating that ice cream !  All good wishes to you and Dena,

    Mary

  • Minnie kriek

    Maybe this is a seriously stupid question since the answer can clearly be seen by all at the bottom right hand corner by all normal readers… but who are the people with you in the picture????
    For the rest, one of the most difficult things to get rid of in a car is the smell of vomit (ask me, I’m the mother of 4) so the driver would have insisted on a new car!
    God bless you and your family
    Much love
    Minnie

    • Dena Battle

      Minnie — the picture is Chris, with his brother Patrick and their dad.

      • Minnie kriek

        Thanks Dena. They all do take after each other and are good-looking men… but of course Chris is in a class of his own!

    • Chris Battle

      Not a stupid question at all. It’s my fault; I couldn’t figure out how to put a caption on the photo. I’m with my younger brother, Patrick, and my father.

      • Minnie kriek

        Thanks. There is certainly a family resemblance but let’s face it you are by far the most handsome! ;-)

  • Jplantin

    Reading this on Friday the 13th so I was nervous. So happy things are finally stable for you. Like you said in my blog, .stable is good. I took your advice on complaining about every ailment when playing golf with friends. I get no respect. Won’t even give me a mulligan when I hit in the water. I need new friends to play with. My friends are too competitive. You game? Or maybe you don’t want to be beaten by a girl. Lol. So happy inlyta is working. May it continue for a long time. Hot dogs, chips and root beer floats. Best always to you and Dena.
    Janet P. Kidney cancer fighter

    • Chris Battle

      Oh I’m game. I’m beaten by a girl regularly — Dena always beats me. 

  • Lindadbattle

    Okay I will go to River Street (Savannah Sweets) and buy and send you some of that fudge that you love.

  • Dmaves

    My husband has been stable on Axitinib/Inlyta for three years. They are now trying a three week on and one off schedule to manage side effects and the side effects’ side effects. It’s a long story, as everyone has. But all in all, things are good. I follow your story and advice here and on Kidney-Onc and keep you and your family in my prayers. So happy I can chuckle along with you as I read.

  • Plummersue

    Great news on the scan!!  So, so jealous of your eating diagnosis!!  Enjoy some Harris Teeters red velvet cake for me!!  Love you all!  We’ll keep up the fight together!!

  • Shaun T

    Great news Chris! After a very long haul, a well deserved stable scan is great medicine. I hope the next one shows more stability and the golden ring – shrinkage. We are among the rare breed of men who would gladly brag about our shrinkage! However, I also want to read about your expanding waistline next time.

  • Dcaputo

    I’ve been following your adventure and admire your courage and willingness to share it with others.  Suggestion for diet?  Pasta, in all its lovely concoctions.  Penne in a marinara sauce, linguine with pesto or bolognese sauce, spaghetti carbonara, and lets not forget the infamous fettuccini Alfredo. While normally a recipe for obesity, as we overweight Italians can attest to, it should do the trick in impressing your nurse with your ability to follow her orders.  Mangia, mangia, mangia!  

  • Beccisaporito

    Hallelujah! I’m with you…good news! I’m so happy y’all had such a good time at Big Canoe. I had so much fun there throughout the years. Praying for you and the family daily.

  • Cjh7400 {Pete Hoover}

    Jelly Belly Sports Beans:  25 gr carbs,  19 gr sugar

  • Claire

    Hi Chris and Dena! We’re coing to Baltimore from Seattle next week to enter a trial with Dr. Hammers. Thank you so much for this blog! We feel a part of a community and a team when reading your story. So happy to hear that you have stabilized. You never know which treatment will be the one for your cells!

    • Chris Battle

      We’ll be Johns Hopkins, too. We’re meeting with the radiation oncology department, set up by Dr Hammers. Tell him we said hi, by the way. If we’re going to be at the hospital on the same day, we could try to meet up for a cup of coffee if you like.

      • Claire

        Hi Chris. My parents went back to Baltimore yesterday to meet with Dr. Hammers. They’re in clinic today for most of the day. Are you and Dena around this week?

        I showed my Dad your blog and he’s very excited about the possibility of meeting you guys! We were reading your IL-2 entries while we waited for a CT scan. Boy..I don’t know how you survived it! We’ll be starting IL-2 in August in a Hammers trial. It’s good to know what we might be up against. Yikes!

        Good luck with your Rad Onc treatments. Sounds like you are getting a leg up in this battle!-Claire

  • Patricia Alana

    You and Dena are the most awesome people on this planet! 

  • Karen V

    I love the picture!  And also a big thank you for sharing your blog…a big congrats on the stability….thoughts and prayers to you and your family….and I hope you have some weight gain at your next appointment.  :)

  • Judy

    I too am on Inlyta (axitinib) and it is working great. Stability is fine with me.

  • Nuala

    vanilla pudding. it’s what my sister recommended when my first child wasn’t gaining weight. Or my personal favorite (still):  rice pudding.

  • Kristy

    I found that quitting smoking can pack some serious weight on :)   Doesn’t hurt to have a Mennonite neighbor with a bakery in their basement – that Winter of Pies caused me to gain about 15 lbs.  If you ever get over to NE Ohio just let us know – we can hook you up with some very yummy cream pies. 

    When my husband was in his early 20′s he was very skinny and wanted to put on some weight.  Needless to say, it worked :)   In a blender, throw in your favorite ice cream, a raw egg or two and lots of heavy whipping cream (instead of milk).  Top it off with a generous 6 inches of whipped cream and sprinkles.  You should see some weight gain by the end of the week :)  

  • Pam Hendricks

    Hi Chris,  I love the  picture of you, your dad and Patrick.  I hope you all had a really good time in Georgia.  I know you all were looking forward to it.  As far as gaining weight I am a pro.  I can just look at ice cream and gain a pound.  Go for the carbs.  I am really excited that his new drug seems to be working.  Keep the faith.  Love to you, Dena and kids.  Pam Hendricks

  • Stephen Drake

    hey chris, maybe cheese would be a good diet sublement, taste good all different kinds and tons o calories and the most tasty flavor of all Fat.  take care God Bless, Stephen

  • Mjpattison

    Really good news!!! I would add lots of bacon, I hear Burger King even has a bacon sundae!

  • Janet Kavinoky

    I can bring you back some deep dish pizza from Chicago,and in the meantime might I suggest a stop by Capitol Hill for We The Pizza, a toasted marshmallow milkshake from Good
    Stuff Eatery, and thena dessert of macaroons at The Sweet Lobby?

  • Lindsey Wilkes

    Great news on the scan Chris. That’s a really nice picture of you with your family too. Definitely stock up on the Ben & Jerry’s, I believe Chunky Monkey should do it. It would be false advertisement otherwise and you might make some extra $$$$ if it does not work.
    All kidding aside, I send love, light and I keep you, Dena and your children in my healing prayers. May you feel well my friend.

  • Jhaldk

    Great news! Following your blog gives us with RCC a good attitude. Thanks. I should be starting the Axitinib/Inlyta in about a month. I just hit the 20% progression from MDX 1106 so I’m off that. Recently gained tons of weight because the cancer/drugs destroyed my thyroid. I’m hoping the least this drug could do for me is make me lose weight. Gotta find something to look forward to, right? Probably won’t see Dr. Hammers anymore since I’m going off MDX so say hello. Dr. Carducci is my oncologist at Hopkins.

  • Jason Martinez

    Chris,
    I hope you remember me.  This is Jason Martinez.  I have recently learned of your experiences and am reaching out to you.  I apologize if I say anything out of line here.  I first want to say that despite drifting apart, I valued the friendship we had, and based on that friendship, I am at once saddened and strengthened by your experience.  I am scared and angry.  The limited time I had with you were fun times, and so much has happened since that time, but I have always looked back at those times as happy times full of much promise.  Your character and personality have not been diminished by time apart, and in my eyes these two things are still wonderful.  I want to talk to you and I want to let you know that you are in my prayers.  I want to catch up with you.  I hope I am not out of line here.  Please contact me.  My email is martinez.jason37@yahoo.com.

     

  • Teresa Shehada

    YOU ARE INCREDIBLE AND A ROLE MODEL FOR ALL. YOUR COURAGE AND HUMOR IN THE FACE OF WHAT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY ARE ENDURING ARE REMARKABLE. KEEP ON KEEPING ON. MANY, INCLUDING ME, ARE PRAYING FOR YOU. YOU ARE FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT!

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