Cancer Ups and Downs – guest post

One of the amazing things about cancer blogging is the connectedness that we sometimes develop towards our fellow travelers, that unique sense of community.  It can be so strong that we are hesitant to give it up.  Years after the news of our remission we still identify with other survivors for we will forever be “survivors”.  Maybe it is partly because of the way cancer grabs hold of us, searing into our primal identity the brand of the Beast.

Lori Lee, whop writes as “Miss Mel” at her blogsite Miss Melanoma: The Official Site for the Fun Side of Cancer , looks back at the acute phase of her own illness, offering hope to those still mired in the struggle.

Ups and downs

I remember when my weeks were filled with a different doctor’s appointment every day, when my job was to do my treatment and to be at the right waiting room at the right time.  I remember the hours of sitting and thinking, too drugged to read or follow a tv show, too tired to care how the 30 minute fiasco ended.  I remember thinking how lucky I’d been just to be able to walk around at one point in my life NOT attached to an i.v. pole, and how mad I was at myself that I had not appreciated it.
I remember the exhaustion of just making the decision to get out of bed that day, the shooting pain in my heels as I walked to the bathroom each morning.  I remember the nausea and the fatigue and the hell I thought I’d never get through.  I remember a year of treatment turning into 3 years of recovery.

Five years later, I have a job that I (mostly) love, where I spend way too much time.  I work out almost every day again, have hobbies, stay too busy, paint, read, travel, see my friends often, and have cocktails over lots of laughs.  Daily, I am finding myself doing things I used to miss doing- running, dancing, shopping, playing, wearing awesome clothes, and going out with friends.

And so to see my friends with my same disease go through hell, retreat back to a life of endless scripts and pharmacies, tests, phone calls, exams and treatments, decisions about chemo and surgery and radiation and clinical trials- it’s sometimes too much to have to process.

And so I dedicate this to my peeps still going through it all and those that I don’t even know who are fighting the same battle, too.  I lift you up with waves of peaceful thoughts.  I send healing vibes your way.

And I cherish my seconds, my minutes, and my days of freedom in honor of you.

-MM

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About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.

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