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Patient Stories

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Chris Jones

Humor Kidney Cancer

Cancer isn’t funny. But keeping a sense of humor when facing a diagnosis can help reduce anxiety – and maybe even help move up a surgery date!


“Why did the large bucket think the small bucket was sick? It was a little pail.”

What do bad jokes have to do with kidney cancer? Don’t worry – I’ll get to that part at the end of my story.

My story starts in early December of last year. I wasn’t feeling normal. My blood sugar was super high, blood pressure bouncing up and down. After ordering multiple labs, my primary care doctor finally ordered some scans, including an abdominal MRI. On December 22nd, I got news that there was a 4 cm mass in the mid-polar region of my right kidney. According to the doctors, it was highly suspicious for renal cell carcinoma.

One of the first things I did was reach out to my good friend Jeff Zdanowski, a kidney cancer patient and survivor. Jeff’s advice? Contact KCCure. Through KCCure my wife and I were able to better understand our options and to get a second opinion with Dr. Todd Morgan, a urological oncologist at the University of Michigan. As someone with early on-set diabetes, preserving kidney function is really important for me and I needed a surgeon who had the skill to do a partial nephrectomy.

Connecting with other patients in the KCCure 1-2-3 community (for patients with localized disease) helped with one of the hardest parts of this diagnosis: waiting for surgery. Even though we know we’re in great hands with Dr. Morgan, the downside of an academic center was that they couldn’t get me scheduled for surgery until the end of March. I won’t lie, the anxiety of knowing this tumor is in my body is tough.

Countdown Calendar for Arnold’s Eviction

Through this all, the greatest source of support has been my family, especially my wife Cindy. Together, we named my kidney tumor “Arnold.” We all agree, Arnold stinks and he’s got to go.

So – what do bad jokes have to do with this story?

Well, as I said, one of the hardest parts of this diagnosis has been waiting for surgery. I was initially scheduled for the end of March. But Dr. Morgan promised that if they had a cancellation, he would move it up. I’ve been calling the scheduling team every other day asking if they had an opening. Eventually, I just started leaving bad dad jokes every day. I don’t know whether it worked or not, but I finally got the call letting me know that my surgery was being moved to March 5th – and an additional request to stop leaving jokes on their answering machine because, in their words, “they were really bad.”

Just one day left on the countdown calendar. We are looking forward to completing this step in the process and saying so-long to Arnold, for good!

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