My cancer story: prologue

I realize that I am asking people to share their stories.  And yet I have not shared mine.  So I will start things off by publishing sections of the journal that I kept when I was first diagnosed.  As always, please feel free to comment if you wish.  Dennis

Life is what happens after you’re planned something else.

Journal – December 2001:  How shall I begin this?  A journal to document what was unthinkable only yesterday.  How shall I begin not only this journal, but also this journey?  How will I sustain it? the journal? the journey? my sanity? my life?  And over all else, pervading thoughts, feelings, and actions for months to come, the recurrent and overwhelming question – how will it end?  Is this diary just for me?  a series of guideposts, a way of tracking both terror and grace over time.  Is this an attempt on the part of my rational mind to make sense of what is happening (what surely cannot be happening!), or is it a catharsis, a purging of pain, a necessary element of the healing process?    I will decide to make these pages public, make this very private experience public.  I will share it with family, friends, and colleagues.  I am and have always been a very private person.  In sharing this journal I will allow myself to be exposed and vulnerable to a degree which I would never have permitted before.
Illness can change a person, change the way in which they see themselves, other persons and the world around them.  Standing here at the beginning of this journey I cannot begin to fathom how and to what extent I will be changed.  At some point last week it occurred to me that my life will never, ever remain the same. And later I begin to appreciate that maybe this life-change is not entirely negative.  This experience can offer a chance at growth, at redemption.

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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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