Some Incredible Emails In Response To “The Price of Hope”

As I’m writing this, it’s 10:34 p.m., and I’ve spent the last 12 hours responding to emails/Facebook messages/Tweets/texts.

The response to The Price of Hope has been overwhelming.

It may sound like hell to sit and type for 12 hours, but as I was telling Anna-Marie, each time I’d open up a new email, the stories got better and better.

I was actually moved to tears (again) from some of the emails I’ve received.

I still have 105 emails to read and a bunch more to respond to, and I plan to respond to every one of them.

So, there might be some more incredible stories in the emails I’ve still yet to read, but I wanted to share a few of them with you here today.

And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to everyone who was so kind to contact me in whichever manner you decided to do so.

It meant the world.

I think if you have the time to read some of these emails, they’ll hit home with you like they did with me:

Mr. McKernan,
Great article today. It really, really, really hit home over here as my mom just went through the exact same thing this past week. She did not lead on to the severity of it to anyone but my dad, and maybe not even him. She, as a nurse, did not lead on as much as she likely knew.
I basically relived her story in full detail just last night, almost the same as yours in all aspects. Did a routine check up, they discovered a lot of abnormalities in various parts of her system. They did a week  plus of countless tests. She works at the hospital, knows all the doctors, and they too couldn't figure it out after countless tests and exams. Scans, MRIs, etc.(I don't know what any of that really means.), invasive tests, and a mass amount of uncertainty.
She too got a call at 7:30 from a doctor last night after doing all kinds of tests. Luckily, they finally did figure out it was benign tumors. She spared me the difficult part of the first hand knowledge you had along the way and gave me the light at the end of the tunnel as that's how she operates.
Simply crazy to me that she had the exact experience, literally this past week ending last night, the day before you published your article. She even said, as you similarly mentioned in your article, "it's not good to get a call from the head doctor on a Friday night."

-Name Withheld


Have been a big fan of the show for years and I believe people have respect for you because you put out good product and always have.  Also I believe you love the City, and that always comes across to people even though like everyone else, it sometimes frustrates us.  In short you, and people that work for you come across as authentic.  Joe, Doug, and Jim all have that good soul vibe, even Iggy ; - ) They care.   You simply  can't fake it. (in spite of the grab ass lol)  That is very important , and to be honest, a rarity.  That's why myself and others I have talked to really appreciate the article you put out there. The main focus of my comment is the story of your Mother.  Never underestimate just the incredible light and hope that a Mother brings.  If you have a good Mom, who tries to do the right thing and has your back you have one hell of a foundation.  I was fortunate to have had. . a Mom with big..big game as you clearly do.

Briefly, my mother was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer at 56, when I was 24 (I'm 50 now)...Although she was terminal her hope never died. She lived for 3 years with terminal cancer and inspired everyone around her with her courage, love and selflessness.  It was incredible.  While it was painful to watch her get weaker and eventually succumb to Cancer, her spirit, hope and courage live on in myself and my kids.  Her example has allowed me to at least not be a crappy parent...I could never let down the hope in the human race that was in her heart.  I point it out because even those that get a different call as it relates to a Diagnosis can still inspire and shine the light of hope.  A good Mom is a hell of a thing.  Thank you for sharing your story with St. Louis, and please share this with your partners in crime over there, they do a hell of a job.  Keep up the good work.


South County...

I was captivated by the piece you wrote on the site this morning.  Rarely am I moved enough to drop an email to a writer, but I was compelled to do so in this case.
My wife found a lump in her breast a few years ago and we went through many of the experiences and emotions you described, though I was thrust into your wife’s role.  As you mentioned in the piece, you yourself were okay with going through the fight had it turned out to be cancer; it was seeing the impact on the people closest to you that hurt the most.  Being one of those closest to my wife, I can tell you that it was the most helpless feeling I have ever had.  I could offer support, but little else.  You can obviously speak to the benefit the support provides, but at the time, from my perspective, it seemed hollow and useless, no matter how much my wife said it helped.  Just as you experienced, the waiting game was easily the hardest part of the ordeal.  Waiting to see doctors, waiting to get scans and more than anything, waiting for results.  Excruciating.  Fortunately, like you, it turned out to be something else.  But that fear we felt for five or so days was real and put us through the absolute ringer.
Since you shared something personal today, albeit in a much more public manner, I would like to “repay” it as best I can.  Feel free to stop reading if it doesn’t interest you.  If that is the case, just know that I appreciated today’s journal of sorts and am thrilled that you were one to the lucky ones.
If you are still reading, here a brief (EDIT: I am re-reading/editing now...it isn’t brief…) synopsis.  I was born and raised in St. Louis, but ended up going to a small college in Memphis.  There I met my wife and we ended up staying in Memphis for nearly 11 years, just moving back this summer.  Despite the distance, I listened to your show online virtually every week day for the last three years.  I still listen daily now that we are in town, though it is still almost exclusively via the podcast.  During my time in college, I was diagnosed with depression and it got severe enough that I had to take a medical leave of absence from school during my Junior year.  I eventually graduated (not taking a shot, promise), but on two separate occasions, I was as close to suicide as possible without actually dying.  I remember those events with incredible clarity, almost like I am re-watching a movie starring myself.  It is beyond surreal and I suspect you know exactly what I am talking about in terms of remembering the hardest moments of your experience.
To the point, after moving to St. Louis, I needed to take and pass a licensing exam.  Throughout the exam, I found myself unable to concentrate on the questions.  It became apparent to me that the test was not going well and that the likelihood of me passing was rapidly decreasing.  Soon, my pessimism (I am extremely pessimistic, which my doctors view as the root cause of my depression, at least relative to other common causes such as brain chemistry, etc.) was taking over, further undermining my chances of passing.  Towards the end of the test (6 hour exam), I was literally determining who I would leave suicide notes for, what those notes would say, how I would do it, timing, etc. rather than focusing on answering test questions.  The scariest part was that, like each of the two prior instances, I was not the least bit concerned about the impact it would have on those closest to me; I was on a one way track.  After the computer confirmed my failure, I gathered my belongings and left, prepared to follow through on my plans to commit suicide.  At that I point I was totally ambivalent towards the exam result or the thought of dying.  I got into my car with the intention of not going home immediately (I needed to get a rope).  Part of my routine while driving is to listen to the show via podcast (rarely have any other time to do so) and this time was no different.  I left the testing center with a purpose while my mind reeled over details of how I was going to commit suicide.  But as I started driving and listening to the show, my mind started to clear as I became engaged in the show (Dennis Hoff was on talking about his pending Alien brothel, among other nit-wittery).  Soon, the test and suicide were not on my mind at all.  Also, I started to go on auto pilot and next thing I knew, I was pulling up to my house.  My wife was in the front yard so I was couldn’t just drive away.  I had no choice, but to go inside, talk to my wife and deal with the situation I was facing.  It was a bizarre turn of events as my focus, mood and even destination changed entirely as I simply listened to a radio show.
I talked through everything with my wife and parents that afternoon/night, made the appropriate doctor’s appointments (I had neglected to do that since our move from Memphis) and am happy to report that things are going MUCH better now.  Still, I can’t help but look back on that afternoon and think that your AM sports show played a pivotal role in me not doing something tragic that would have had an irreversible impact on those that know and love me.  I know you guys joke around quite a bit about the 14 listeners, lack of show prep and the general nit-wittery of the show, but the show impacts a lot of people as I can attest to.  My wife, who was always irritated by my devoted listening (she would be subjected to it in the car and she found it “stupid” and “immature”), has even found a new appreciation for the show (truly) or at least to my listening of it.  She still finds it both stupid and immature.
I debated sending this to you in the immediate aftermath of the incident, but decided against it.  After reading your piece today, however, I felt a need to share this with you. I wanted you to know the kind of impact your show can have and has had on people in the listening audience.  I hope this doesn’t anger you, given that the psychology of suicide lies in stark contrast with many of the things you expressed in your story (i.e. desire to live/fear of dying, concern about the impact of your cancer on loved ones, etc.).  Similarly, I hope you do not find it “creepy”.  Many suffering from depression/suicidal thoughts are too ashamed to share their story, even to the point of forgoing treatment.  I have been open about it with people from the beginning because over the last ten years, it has had a profound impact on my life.  Also, as I mentioned earlier, I am doing much, much better as I sit here today typing this email to you.  I am very fortunate in that regard.
As I stated earlier, I found the story captivating and I am truly happy to hear that you are cancer free.  Thank you so much for sharing it.  Best of luck going forward, with your health and otherwise.  Thank you, with all sincerity, for the work you do each day.  You undoubtedly hear that from many, but I can’t imagine many others mean it as much as, or at least in the manner that, I do.

Name Withheld


Your article was very well written about the close call with cancer. It brought up a lot of emotions and memories I had when I died because of an Acute Pulminary Embolism the summer of 2011.

Quick background about Pulminary Embolisms. Basically, I had a blood clot in my lung causing my heart to shut down on the right side. Even now, the Doctors don't really know the cause of my misfortunes.

Like you, I was relatively young at age 42. I grew up Catholic and went to Chaminade but not one you would call a Bible Banger or even a devout Christian. I believe in God but back them to what extent I still don't know. I'm pretty sure this is accurate but I believe you were a Sigma Chi at Mizzou. I was also a member of the Xi Xi chapter. That's just telling you I was not an Angel by any means and liked to have a good time.

The similarities don't stop there. When I went into Cardiac Arrest on June 29, I lost consciousness and my heart stopped. While unconscious, I felt very warm and everything was super bright. I could hear all the commotion with the Doctors but like you I felt so at ease. It took all the fear of dying away. It's hard to describe but I was truly at peace for the first time in my life. I was later revived but was on a breathing machine and in a coma for 4 days. They went so far as to tell my wife to get all my affairs in order because I wouldn't make it through the night. Scary as shit for them and can't imagine how hard it was!

I woke up after 4 days with a feeling of euphoria! Very strange but I was so happy and at piece that I felt I was on ecstasy and cocaine all at once. Nothing mattered except my family and the sun coming in the window. My stay in the ICU was a long one around a month and took me about a year to get back 90% of my strength.

It did however change my outlook on life. Don't get me wrong, I still at times get pissed at things, chase the almighty dollar and lose my shit when the Rams, Cardinals, Blues and Mizzou lose but it doesn't take long to get things back into perspective. It may seem weird but I wouldn't change a thing because it has given me a second chance to live life like it was meant to be.

I hope it didn't sound to cliche-ish but that's what happened and I'm glad you got to experience the feeling of getting to live through a new set of eyes.

Joe Del Carmen

Just read your article.  I totally get it.  In early September, I was having a bunch of really odd gastrointestinal symptoms that came out of nowhere.  I am a super healthy work out fanatic and healthy eater, so I never really have stomach problems.  I saw the doc and had an ultrasound and blood work done.  It was really odd to know that there was clearly something wrong, but I had no idea exactly what it was.  My  doc seemed equally puzzled.
While playing pot limit Omaha at Harrahs (I’m a regular in that game), I get a call on my cell and recognize that it’s my doctor’s office.  It is the Friday before Labor Day weekend.  He tells me that they looked at the ultrasound and it appears that I have a dilated pancreatic duct.  He says I need to get a CT scan immediately.  His tone is very serious and grim and I get the feeling this is not good.  I grab my iphone and quickly google “dilated pancreatic duct” and realize that it is often an indicator of two things: pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer.  Since I don’t drink alcohol at all, pancreatitis is extremely unlikely.   I research some more and find that I have been experiencing all the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and the survival rate is pretty much zero.
We couldn’t get a ct scan over the weekend, so I had to wait until the following Tuesday.  So, for the next 4 days I continue to suffer from these unbelievably uncomfortable and painful physical symptoms.  Worse, I am convinced that in less than a year, I am likely a dead man.  My wife and I have an 8 yr old daughter we adopted from China and we just brought home our son from Ethiopia less than a year ago.  He is almost two now, but I am considering the likelihood that after I’m gone, he won’t even remember me.  My wife is an emotional wreck the entire weekend.
Long story short, I had a series of additional tests and appointments with specialists.   I went through the same emotional roller coaster you described as I waited for the results.  I remember the day I was expecting the call from the doctor.  I received the same false alarm calls you did and it drove me nuts.  I was literally trembling when the doc called with the news.  Fortunately, they said there was no cancer and that I should be fine.  They suspected that I had been taking too much ibuprofen to deal with pain in my shoulder from working out and it may have caused an ulcer.  I cut out all supplements and ibuprofen and after about a month, my symptoms went away.
Just like you, I now feel like I’ve been given a second chance. It doesn’t matter that I actually didn’t have cancer.  It was the fact that for about 10 days I was convinced I did and it gave me an entirely different life perspective.  The experience really changed my whole outlook on life.
I’m glad you are ok.  Have been a longtime fan.  I’m a mizzou guy too and a poker enthusiast, so I’ve always enjoyed your show.   Take care and thanks for sharing your experience.  As I read it, I was literally reliving in my mind exactly what I had been through.


Thanks for sharing your story.  My sister died from a brain tumor at 17 and I have been pretty callous in my response and reaction to the success stories regarding cancer diagnoses and treatments ever since.  I have often been bitter and angry when I hear of some jackass that dodged the cancer bullet.  I get particularly incensed when people start attributing those “miracles” to God, or the “power of prayer.”  Of course, I believe my sister was more worthy of a miracle than anyone I have ever met.  In my mind, she was perfect.  Beautiful, sweet, innocent and loving.  I know you have a little sister as well and probably can relate to the pain I felt when, at 30, I found out my 16 year old sister had a brain tumor.  She was given a 1 in 10,000 chance of surviving.  She lived for another 14 months, enduring a horrific amount of pain, physical transformation and neurological deterioration.  I reacted by ending my relationship with organized religion and mocking anyone who ever prayed for anything.  I put a lot of energy into being angry.  It was hard work and I put in long hours.
Let me tell you why I am thanking you. Your story reminded me a bit of our story.  Hearing about your wonderful support system and loving family brought me back to the strength and love our family leveraged as we worked through those events.  It was a wonderful thing.  I think you have chipped away at some of my bitterness by telling such a beautiful story and by sharing your reactions and emotions so openly.  I wasn’t very empathetic in the beginning, but as I continued to read your story I was struck by how every action in the story was driven by a powerful love that you have for your friends and family.  By the time I read the final few paragraphs of your story, I found myself sitting in the parking lot at work with a smile on my face and tears freely rolling down my face.  It felt really good to be happy for you.  I think I am done being bitter.  I think I am ready to feel joy for people who are lucky enough to have a happy ending (insert giggle here).  I know that my sister sat and prayed for other kids during “healing” masses our family attended.  She was absolutely selfless.  I saw her weep for others even as she slowly died.  She was a better person than I have ever been and I have dishonored her memory and robbed myself of joy by failing to rejoice in the good fortune of others for so long.  She would be so happy for you and your family and I can honestly say with no bitterness that your good fortune has made my day.  Thanks for giving me that.
I guess the secret is out, Tim.  You are a pretty good guy.  Congratulations on your second chance.  I am sure that you will make the most of it.

Name Withheld

Tim, the reason I felt compelled to send you a message was that I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 30....our boys were barely 1 and 3 at the time. I could so relate to every roller coaster feeling you had that week although in the end I did have cancer I tell everyone that first week and the unknown was by far the worst part of my battle. I am almost 6 years cancer free and thankful every day to be alive. I am not going to preach to you but wanted to share a similar part of my story. I too was raised catholic and did continue to go to church but more out of obligation or just thinking I should...at the time of my diagnosis I didn’t have a very strong faith other than I did believe there was a God. I was truly brought to my knees after being told that I had a very small chance of survival especially because I wanted to be a mom to our two boys and a wife to my husband for a very long time. I remember shortly after I was diagnosed just wanting to know if I would be ok and one morning I woke up and was on the phone with my sister in law. I told her I woke up thinking I need to read Psalm 116 for some reason...I dreamt that I should read it. Neither one of us even knew if there was such a psalm nor did I own a bible....so she googled it for me and started crying reading it. The whole thing was about facing death, being sick, that this sickness was not unto death but for the greater glory of God. If you are ever bored read it. Seriously rocked my entire world and from that moment on I had no doubt not only was there a God but that he would be with me through this entire battle. It was a tough battle....two years of chemo, surgeries, radiation etc. but I am alive and well today. My faith has grown in ways you could never imagine and literally my life changed the day I was told those words. It changed me for the better and honestly I wouldn't go back and change it today (as long as it never comes back:) I always say I think the world would be a better place if we could all feel for one second like we may not be here tomorrow...it really puts what’s important in perspective. I honestly never share my beliefs with others and this is very out of my element to even be writing you, but after reading your story just thought it was something I should do. I am SO happy for you that you got the results you did and hope that you are feeling better physically. Have a very Merry Christmas!

-Name Withheld

Log-in and post your comments, or you can email me at tmckernan@insidestl.com.

SHARE: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0)| RSS comment feed | | |

There are currently no comments, be the first to post one.

Post Comment

Only registered users may post comments.