Great news from today’s brain scan

Posted in Uncategorized by Sean Holton on August 30, 2010

One month ago today, the results of my last MRI brain scan produced one of the Scariest Fridays Of My Life. Today the exact opposite happened. The very same MRI tube spit out a new man with a new concept for a casual-dining restaurant chain: Thank God It’s Monday.

Quick refresher: Besides confirming the recurrence of a malignant brain tumor, the July 30 scan showed further growth in a dangerous buildup in fluid and pressure around my brain that had my doctor so worried he wanted me to report immediately to the emergency room lest I have a seizure or stroke. I managed to talk my way out of that, but the following week I was shifted to a new bi-weekly regime combining intravenous chemotherapy called Irinotecan (CPT-11) with a companion drug called Avastin (which can starve blood supply to tumors by restricting arterial growth around them). I’ve had two of those treatments so far, and my third is set for tomorrow morning.

Quick update from today: I got the unexpected, incredibly good news that in just one month the new treatment regime has not only halted the growth of the recurrent tumor in its tracks (which is the best I was allowing myself to hope for), but has actually wiped it mostly off the map. What was a dense, 2.1-centimeter-in-diameter growth that I compared last time to a comet with a long tail showed up in today’s scan as a white, wispy sheen of barely visible light in the picture.  A growth that might easily have muscled up even more to become the new Bully of my Brain now looks instead like a scrawny sissy who got beat up and left in a roadside ditch on its way home from school. That tumor is cryin’ for its Mama to come pick it up. And the fluid buildup on the outside of my brain has significantly diminished. My doctor is as happy with the results as I obviously am. Talk about happy hour. Hey bartender, mix me up another one of those nice new chemo cocktails right away.

Quick update on prognosis: The doctor says the Irinotecan/Avastin therapy looks so promising in controlling my cancer so far that he expects me to squeeze many, many more months of  high-quality survival out of it.  I’m set for four more of the bi-weekly infusions to take me to the end of October. After that, I’ll get another scan and based on that he may be able to scale back the dosages I’m getting (if the results are good) or switch me to one of many more alternative combinations of agents that are available (if the cancer shows signs of fighting back again). Meanwhile, on the fluid-buildup front, he expects it to diminish even more and eventually disappear with the help of yet another medication he’s throwing into the mix.

Quick update on the quirkiness of it all: I wasn’t scheduled to even get any of these results until an appointment that was initially scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. But after my doctor took a sneak peek at the scan an hour after it was completed this morning, he had his nurse call me at home immediately because he didn’t want me to have to wait even a day to hear the great news. And he even moved up my appointment a day so I could go right back in this afternoon and go over the results in detail with my sister Kathleen, who came here from Las Vegas to be with me in case this turned out to be another topsy-turvy week of medical news. Instead, it will be a week to celebrate. All the prayers and positive thoughts and energy that people are sending my way appear to be working.

 Quick kicker line (courtesy of my buddy Roger Roy) about getting so much happy news from a single brain scan: “Seems like the only thing they DIDN’T tell you they found inside there today was the key to Claudia Schiffer’s apartment.”

I can’t top that. Thanks Roger, and thanks to all the rest of you who have been tracking my progress and sending me all your love and support. You’ve been with me through the rough times, so I wanted to share this good news right away.


39 Responses

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  1. ann hellmuth said, on August 30, 2010 at 5:40 pm


    We couldn’t be happier. We were on tenderhooks all day wondering how it was going. See you tomorrow at chemo.

    Luv Ann and Justus

  2. claudine hellmuth said, on August 30, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    yay Sean! I was holding my breath all day! such a treat to hear GOOD news!!!

  3. Scary said, on August 30, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    This is sooo fantastic, as in almost unbelievable. Will be forwarding this to an aquaintance who has opted to battle his prostate cancer with good nutrition and regular doses of Juice Plus. Here’s to the wonders of Western medicine!

  4. Bluedevil said, on August 30, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Rock rock rockin’ in the Free World! Youda man, bucket. Most folks wouldn’t get the psychic connection, I don’t think (especially since Dionne Warwick quit explaining that kind of thing), but I figure if you can lick the comet I can kick the kools… You help make me want to, Seanie, especially when the news is good from down there… Down to three today…
    Cheers, mate!

    • Thestoneschick said, on September 1, 2010 at 10:37 pm

      I second that!!! Lick the comet, kick the kools and I’ll provide you both with endless hours of babysitting entertainment!!

  5. fish said, on August 30, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    excellent news!! thrilled to hear it!!

  6. Mike Griffin said, on August 30, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Great news, Sean! Fantastic.

  7. Kathryn Quigley said, on August 30, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    I think you should go play the lottery, cause you are LUCKY. Plus Claudia Schiffer likes dudes with lotsa cash.

  8. John Glionna said, on August 30, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Seanboy, the gods are smiling upon you. you know the gods, the three 13-year-old japanese girls taht bestow goodness on good people. you’ve got great news, plus you older sis to enjoy it with. what could be better? love you, buddy

  9. David Blank said, on August 30, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Sean – that’s most excellent….I knew you looked good when we saw you!

  10. Scott Maxwell said, on August 30, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Let’s here it for sissy tumors!
    great news, my man.

  11. Sue Holton said, on August 30, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    We have been so elated all day since you called with the great news.
    I know those drugs are powerful but I have to think your optimism and great attitude also had a lot to do with with your recovery. Keep doing what you’re doing.
    Love you Sean.

  12. Tammy Lytle said, on August 30, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Great news. My little guys were saying prayers for you tonight.

  13. Lisa said, on August 30, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Better living through chemistry, as they say. So glad for your good news. Glad your cancer got the a**-whooping it deserves!

  14. Jane said, on August 31, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Great news! So happy to hear it.

  15. Kim said, on August 31, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Awesome news! Heard an interview on NPR the other day with the author of The Relaxation Response. He has a new book out, The Relaxation Revolution, that you should check out.

  16. Paul Lester said, on August 31, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    This is fantastic news, Sean! As the photo says: “happy happy happy happy happy happy!”

  17. patebooks said, on August 31, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    great news for a great guy. Rock on! Love the pic.

  18. Julie Holton said, on August 31, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    I love you Sean. Kathleen is your lucky charm!

  19. Dave Damron said, on August 31, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    That’s such great news. You and that chemo-cocktail are kicking some serious ass.

  20. Mike Grimes said, on September 1, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Sean: All this is great news and thank you for sharing. I have a friend (Mark Hart) here in NC who was diagnosed last week with a tumor and he is in dire emotional straits. I shared your blog with Mark and hope it gives him some comfort. I hope this was the right thing for me to do???…mike

  21. Elaine said, on September 1, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Oh wow, this is phenomenal. So glad to hear the good news. Even gladder that you got to hear the good news.

  22. Marlene said, on September 1, 2010 at 9:59 am

    The forces are with you!! Great News!
    My prayers and good wishes are going your way.

  23. Mary Beth Regan said, on September 1, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Great news Sean. Thanks for posting so soon!! Also. Keep enjoying these happy hours. MB

  24. MB Regan said, on September 1, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Great news Sean. Hope all went well with continued chemo yesterday. And keep enjoying these happy hours. MB

  25. mike Oliver said, on September 1, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Well rock me like a wagon wheel.
    Great news, Sean.

  26. Maxtrue said, on September 2, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Great news Sean. Just great news.

  27. Molly BB said, on September 2, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Just checking in and catching up! Hip, Hiip, Hooray! re the good new, Sean! Wish I were there to help you celebrate. Reading Thomas Merton? I’ve been to Gethsemanie a couple of times – (an end-of-the-school-yr trip when in 8th grade and then…just last yr. the Ladies from Maretburg visited). It is a beautiful, serene place. Bill used to go there every month when he was working for a consulting company – to assist with environmental issues at the site – they have a large manufacturing operation there – a farm and bakery – where they make their famous fruit cake and candy which they ship all over the world. Bill’s co-worker is goiing there next month for a week-long retreat of prayer and silence.
    Again – such heartening health-news from you. Blessings with love and Best Wishes

  28. Colorado Bob said, on September 3, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Chemo cocktails ……… ” Bartender , drinks for everybody “

  29. RebelliousRenee said, on September 3, 2010 at 9:26 am


    Sean… alright buddy!…. great news and live large….

  30. Flatus Ohlfahrt said, on September 3, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Lard, I know it’s the docs’ and your wonderful attitude and spirituality that are making things go right. But, you should understand, my constant humming of Burl Ives’ ditty might have helped just a little bit.

  31. Jamie said, on September 3, 2010 at 11:46 am

    This wonderful news. May the bully stay cowering in that ditch begging for mama.

  32. Janice Blase said, on September 4, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Fabulous news, Lard! ♥

  33. Kelly Fent said, on September 5, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Sean – This just took down the old adage that no news is good news. Am smiling like a loon through tears of joy. Deserves a major celebration. Everyone – take tomorrow off!
    Love ya, Kel

  34. rebeany said, on September 5, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    RIGHT ON!!!! so happy and i hope the meds aren’t kicking your tush too much so that you can enjoy this wonderful news. that is one wonderful doctor…he done good. enjoy the holiday…i suspect you truely will.


  35. Craig said, on September 7, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Just catching up on this great news! Really happy to hear it, Sean!

  36. Steve Doyle said, on September 15, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I’ve been behind the news, but this is great!
    Glad you got to hear it and now live it.

  37. Hilda said, on September 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Words can’t express…wonderful news!

  38. Sandy Mathers said, on September 17, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Hi Sean,
    Boy, am I late catching up with you. Your latest news is, of course, wonderful.
    And i was feeling sorry for myself about putting in a new drain field, sprinkler heads and (expensive) grass. Then to have my ancient dishwasher bit the dust two days later.
    Your blogs really put life in perspective and how!
    Add my good wishes to your long list of well-wishers! Love your blog. I think the book in you is really taking shape.
    Sandy M.

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