Tender Mercies

Excellent weather has kept me working outside.  Weather permitting we are hosting a wedding shower in the garden for my niece this Saturday.  I am preparing the food for upwards of forty people. If it rains we have to pack all these folks inside our downsized home.

I updated my “About the Author” page to include more personal items.  It was sounding too much like a formal resume.  But then I am always looking for the odd consulting or speaking opportunity, the chance to earn some money, an earned contribution to the family finances outside disability.  This blog is, after all, presented to you by D.P. Healthcare Consulting.

I continue to battle spam – I have Askimet software to filter it – over 300 instances of spam in the past six weeks.  What is the motivation of these people with thier long, extended nonsensical emails?

Friday is my bone marrow clinic appointment.  I haven’t gone three months without seeing a doctor in over seven years.  Ah, the life of a professional patient!  I continue to feel a little more fatigued and short of breath than what I imagine is usual.  I have had a vague sore throat for a couple of weeks.  Then there’s the bruising and maybe I bleed a bit longer when I scratch myself, my skin permanently, prematurely thin from years on the steroid drug, prednisone .  All possible symptoms of leukemia recurrence… or just life.

In any case I am glad I will be busy preparing for the shower, my mind and body occupied.  For Friday afternoon I expect to hear that the miracle of my health continues.

Journal – December 2001

Perhaps it is a good idea to balance this tale with talk of brightness and endearment.  For it is about this time that I began to feel like the James Stewart character in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, when he discovers that he had made a meaningful difference in people’s lives and that he is loved not only by his family but also by a unappreciated circle of friends.

Over a few weeks I have daily gotten emails from family and friends.  I have started to send my journal out.  For some reason I feel the need to make public this experience, to open myself up.  This is strange as I view myself as a rather private, guarded person.  I think that I want to make something positive of this experience, to make it something that touches people and causes them perhaps to reexamine how fragile are our lives, how deep and perhaps underappreciated our relationships.

For the past few weeks people from our parish church, have brought over dinners.  One evening a family showed up with a fresh Christmas tree, put it in our stand and helped Tish and Aaron put the lights on (traditionally my job).  Tish, who is a school social work program director, disclosed my illness at her weekly staff meeting. Her staff of social workers and an assortment of school principals and teachers also responded with dinners and desserts.

Pretty soon I began to receive e-mails from across the globe, people from all faiths and backgrounds who said that they were praying for me.  I had also established “ears” in some of the world’s most renowned cancer institutions – the Royal Marsden in London (where much of the work on CamPath and T-PLL had been carried on), M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Duke University, and others – all ready (I imagined) to report any new developments related to my relatively rare disease.

But I was amazed and continue to be amazed that I am the focus of so many prayers and prayer chains.  The people at work were to begin a daily prayer group for me with a customized “Dennis prayer”.  The people from my church, of course, but also the people from the churches of my immediately family, the churches of friends and colleagues who called, the churches of people that I don’t even know.

One of my wife’s sisters drove 180 miles on the day before I was to enter the hospital in order to deliver to me a “prayer cloth” from her church.  These prayer cloths had apparently helped in the cures of several other people with cancer.  She stayed a couple of hours to visit, than drove 180 miles back.

I cannot begin to count or even estimate the number of people praying for me.  Months in the future I will receive e-mails from people that I do not know, saying that they heard about me and have started a prayer chain.  My oncologist told me that the literature shows that people who are prayed for live longer.  It is on the crest of all of these people’s optimism, prayers, support, and messages of hope that I am able to sustain some semblance of a positive attitude.  Left alone with what I know and what I have experienced, I do not think that I could muster anything but a bleak view of my future.


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.


Tender Mercies — 2 Comments

  1. It is so difficult.

    1. Absolutely quote anything you want.

    2. It is so easy to think a scratch on our finger is either leprosy or cancer (same thing sometimes).

    3. I love a crowded house so if the shower is indoors they make the best showers and parties.

    4. All the prayers you have had are a wonderful thing. When people say they are praying for me I love it.

    5. I am praying that it is just thin skin and no recurrence.

    Love Renee xoxoxo

  2. The power of prayer is an amazing gift. It is one thing when those we know and love pray for us. It is something else altogether when complete strangers pray for us. But without those messages being sent in our favour, where would we be? The kindness and goodness of people stretches farther than the eye can see.

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