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Enjoy: Unexpected news in an email

Posted by on January 25, 2013 in My Health Updates - 47 Comments

We received a remarkable email yesterday. It landed in Dena’s inbox, from Dr. Hammers, with the simple comment: “Enjoy!” It was like one of those emails that somebody sends with a joke that has been rounding the Internet for weeks. Good for a laugh … Thought you’d like this … Enjoy. But it wasn’t an inappropriate joke or a phishing scam — it was a copy of the radiology report from yesterday’s CT scan. The punchline surprised us nonetheless. It said: “Interval response to therapy with overall decrease in size of multiple bilateral lung masses.”

In other words: Your tumors are retreating, this drug is working.


We’d pulled out into the early morning darkness yesterday heading for Baltimore to meet with Dr. Hammers for a previously scheduled check-in. We had hot coffee, snow on the ground and no real expectations for the day other than undergoing routine bloodwork and holding a discussion with Dr. Hammers about my symptoms. He remained nervous about hemorrhaging in my lungs, and we were meeting every couple of weeks. There was no intention of doing a CT scan yesterday, but Dr. Hammers decided that he wanted to get a baseline scan in order to measure the effectiveness of the drug with another scan in a month or two.

I have more CT scans under my belt now than Manti T’eo has imaginary girlfriends, so what was one more? I hadn’t intended to even bother reading the scan, as we’d just had one a few weeks ago during my hospitalization New Year’s Day. Normally, scan days fuel extra anxiety, some anxious pacing, nervous jokes with Alice. Dena chews on Ativan like sunflower seeds. But this scan was just a baseline. No news to speak of. We’d save our anxiety for the next scan one to two months down the road.

So I needled up, stretched my arms over my head and lay silently while the machine snapped ghostly photographic slivers of my abdomen and chest. Afterwards, we didn’t even look back. Just walked out of the building and grabbed some lunch.

Some time later in the afternoon at home, Dena brought me her Blackberry and just handed it to me. I think she was hesitant to believe what she saw, so she didn’t say anything. I read through the CT scan report and stopped when I came to the section detailing my lung mets and their decrease in size compared to the scan from earlier this month. I re-read it. Then I continued. Was there a mistake? At the end of the report, the summary confirmed what I’d read: Interval response, overall decrease.

It took a moment to sink in because we’ve never, in the nearly four years of fighting cancer, had a CT scan that said simply: overall decrease. Even those scans that had shown some signs of hope, like the shrinkage of some lymph node mets while I was on Sutent, were inevitably marred with growth elsewhere.

I remain cautious. We have been on Cabo for less than a week. The reduction in tumor size is legitimate, but the scans still note “innumerable lung masses and nodules.” Maybe it’s four years of bad news. Maybe it’s that I know that none of these drugs are curative and that sooner or later they all stop working and I can’t know whether this may work for a month, a year, a week. Whether this reduction is all I get. Maybe it’s the lingering dark residue of the scenario presented just three weeks earlier while I was in the hospital, the one in which I did not survive the month to even try the new drug.

Still, the words “overall decrease” ring clear. They give hope. They are words we’ve never seen before on a scan, ever. And they leave us with faith that they will lead to even better news.

We plan to take Dr. Hammers’ simple but brilliant advice.


  • Kristy Richardson

    Hope is a wonderful thing. When you are given it – take it and run like mad with it. So many times we kidney cancer fighters aren’t given this gift. I am SO happy for you :) This is a cause for a celebration. Now put down Dena’s other leg and go to Ruth’s Chris for a nice big steak dinner. LOL

  • Karen in Ottawa Canada

    OMG I’m thrilled for the bit of joy this brings into your world and how it lightens the day for you – brought a big frickin’ grin to my face! May the next scan have equally brilliant news – and thank you for sharing and making this such a good day in my world too!

  • Maryalice

    Fantastic!!!!!!! Most excellent news! Go Cabo GOOOOO!

    Enjoy indeed!!

    Continuing prayers for you and yours!


  • Peggy Zuckerman

    So thrilled, and news we all take great pleasure in hearing. Fight on!

  • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.myerstomczak Courtney Myers-Tomczak

    Love it! You just totally made my day!!!

  • Pat B

    Prayers do get answered and we need to keep prayer for more shrinkage. God

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamie.klink Jamie Cannon Klink

    Congratulations. So glad to hear good news. Keep up the fight!

  • Wendy

    Well, I’m enjoying right along with you! Thank you for making this a happy weekend! xoxoxo wendy

  • Donna M

    So very happy to hear!!! Great news….keep it up…thoughts & prayers to you & your family…

    Fellow warrior,

  • Luanne

    Chris & Dena, What wonderful news. You so deserve this. Remain hopeful that it will continue because it will. Lots of love and best wishes. Your loyal followers from Canada. Luanne & Barry

  • http://twitter.com/pamelajean43 Pamela Jean

    That’s unbelievable! You keep taking the one, two, three punch and it’s finally paid off!

  • Matt Ivy

    I knew it would work in my gut, Chris. This just took way too long. You guys have suffered more than anyone I have known. The effort by Dena has been inspiring and nothing short of remarkable! No one knows like I do having been in her shoes (with my wife) she put it ALL out there for you, pal!!!

    You are now a shining example of what has been mine and Dena’s obsession since 2009.

    It’s a tribute to having faith, believing in something and NEVER giving up!

    All our love,
    Matt & Tina Ivy

  • sharon scheidhauer

    There seems to be a lot of good news coming out of Baltimore this past week. Dr. Hammers is good and all, but I’m crediting Ray Lewis with the decrease in mets.
    I’m sooo happy for you!!

  • Helen Frith

    So happy for you! I know you and Dena are in all of our prayers! So we are thankful too!

  • Rebecca Patterson

    ENJOY INDEED! We’re doing a little dance here in Houston for you! HOPE…my favorite word!

    Always praying,
    Rebecca and Jim

  • Janet Kavinoky

    Phenomenal! Cheers to you both!

  • Leighann

    I have tears in my eyes… Truly wonderful news. God is good. Enjoy indeed :)

  • Erin


  • Shaun

    WOW! So happy to read your news. May this blessing continue.

  • Kelly chard

    I’m all choked up. I’m praying that you receive many more “enjoy” emails. I think of you guys often! Xoxo

  • Janet


  • Gina

    Amazing! Praying for your continuing success with Cabo. Enjoy the great news!

  • susan Hutchinson

    Praise GOD! !! Had a special prayer time with HIM about you earlier this month (January) and I felt a great breathing relief in mythe own lungs for you!

  • Aunt Barb

    Wonderful News!!! God is good, and I am constantly talking to Him and asking for a medicine that will help you!…..I will continue down the same path!

  • Cheryl Nixon

    You deserve good news it’s about time. Yahoo!!!!!! God Bless

  • Terri H.

    Incredible news! You are my hero, as I am NED now but admire you and Dena in your courageous battle!

  • mike fegles

    Wow. My man Chris. Reading this is hard to describe. I am stage 4. Lung mets. Somewhat stable since IL-2 (one new met in the last CT scan for a total of 3). My wife and I have followed you and Dena through your journey and rejoice with you at this news. Keep the faith my friend. You are loved and prayed for. Mike & Chris Fegles

  • Linda Haskins

    So happy for all of you. Looks like our prayers are being answered.

  • Maz
  • Dana Moon

    We too shall enjoy your good news. This gives hope to all of us that are battling along side a loved one with metastatic kidney cancer.

  • Bicheng

    Hi Chris, I really love your blog. My father also has MRCC, and I always feel that only the sky above my head is dark. Your posts encourage me a lot. I am about to translate your posts and ask my father to read them. Please please please get better and I am sure you will. All the best.

  • Minnie

    At last the good news! I’m so pleased for you.

  • Jenni

    Great news and some rays of hope. What else could you expect with a name like Cabo?

  • http://www.facebook.com/frank.fusco.10 Frank Fusco

    Joyful news indeed. We have special prayers for you every week and privately frequently. Of course our thoughts and prayers will continue for you and your family.

  • Karen Chase

    ENJOY is right!!!!! Great news Chris.

  • Mary Pattison

    My heart is singing, I too have faith that this will lead to even better news!

  • Laura Jullien

    Fantastic news! Thank you Lord.

  • Chris B

    Chris, we do not know one another personally. My wife and I have followed your story from the start. We appreciate all that you share. You and your family remain in our thoughts and discussion. We rejoice in this latest news that you share. Enjoy…well said… indeed

  • Kenny

    Great news Chris! — Where was lunch?– Atmanns? We will be seeing Dr HH next month.

  • alice thompson

    Chris and Dena, Finally good news. I am so thrilled for the two of you. You GIVE so much inspiration and laughter to your cyber friends; time to get some back. I am overwhelmed with happiness on your behalf. It’s (hopefully) just the first step forward with many more to come. YES!!!!!!!!!! Give those beautiful little girls a hug for me.

  • Claire

    Great news!!

  • Ellen Howe

    Fantastic! God bless.

  • LaNeia

    A blessing. We continue to hope and pray for the best for you and your family, as we do for our own. Hope is around the corner for all of us and this is just another example. All the best to you both.

  • LaNeia

    A poem I am sure you probably heard – but I wanted to send b/c particularly relevant these days. (by Sheenagh Pugh):

    Sometimes things don’t go,
    after all,
    from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
    faces down frost; green
    thrives; the crops don’t fail,
    sometimes a man aims high, and all goes

    A people sometimes step back
    from war;
    elect an honest man; decide they care
    enough, that they can’t
    leave some stranger poor.
    Some men become what they were born

    Sometimes our best efforts
    do not go
    amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
    The sun will sometimes
    melt a field of sorrow
    that seemed hard frozen: may it happen to

  • Sam

    Chris, you and Dena are simply remarkable. Your friends are in awe. And of course we’re pulling for y’all….

  • Bicheng

    Hi how are you Chris? I come to see you everyday and I am looking forward to your updates! Take care and all the best!

  • heather


    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?


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