First Book Club Discussion

I confess, I am a little nervous as I head into Monday’s post.  It is the first chance we have for book club discussion.  It is the first opportunity to see if this little experiment is viable.  Again this and all other features on Being Cancer are on-going and subject to change and improvement.  As I have written to a number of my readers recently, please do consider adding Being Cancer to your blogrolls (or it it blogsroll?).  Sharing resources is one way we have to continue to grow and build this cancer community.

Christine Lynds answered the study questions on her blog The Edge of Light – by Christine Lynds.  So dipping into her post is as good a place to start as any to begin the discussion.

Initially Randy’s wife is opposed to his spending time on this speaking/writing project. How did you identify with this conflict between the needs of the sick person versus the needs of loved ones? To what extent do you think this conflict reflected gender orientations? How do you deal with self-fulfillment issues when you have a deadly disease?

Balancing your own needs and the needs of loved ones can be the most complicated part of this whole ordeal. I don’t want to make this any harder for my family than it already is, but I know that putting my own needs first does just that sometimes. I try to listen and understand where they are coming from, but I need to make my own choices in the end.

Randy’s decision to go ahead with his projects were the best thing for his family in the long run. Loved ones shouldn’t be left with the sorrow of knowing that the person never realized their dreams.

Dennis:  I couldn’t help but think that there were some gender issues here.  Women in general tend to value family above other considerations.  Likewise, men in our culture seem more goal-oriented.  If the roles had been reversed in Randy’s relationship, would the discussion have been the same?

“Kids – more than anything else – need to know their parents love them. Their parents don’t have to be alive for that to happen.” How does this theme resonate for you in dealing with illness and family? He worries that his young children will not remember him. What thoughts have you had about the legacy of memory that you might leave your children or grandchildren?

My son is an adult, but I have thought about what I can leave him so that he will continue to feel my love and presence in his life, even after I’m gone.

I keep a journal of letters that I’ve been writing to Adam since he was a baby. This blog will someday become a record of who I was and what was important to me. I’ve considered writing a children’s book about my life for future grandchildren. I plan to call it The Story of Amma (what I want my grandchildren to call me).

Dennis:  I have two young grandchildren whom I love more than most anything in this world.  Since I am on disability, I have done childcare for them since infancy.  Imagining that if I were to leave them, they might have little or no memory of them is difficult to bear.  When I looked at the photo on the back cover of the book, seeing he and the kids together, happy – and then to realize that these children might not remember their father, that is really hard.

Another of my readers, Genevieve,  writes “cancer has made me much more faithful with all the little “record keeping” things – baby books, momentos saved, photo albums kept up to date.   I also keep a 5 year journal in my wide-margin Bible for each child.  I am half way through kid number 2 so I have to live at least 13 more years to finish the project!”

Randy tells about how he was raised as a child. How did your own upbringing impact on how you handled your diagnosis and subsequent struggle with disease and treatment?

I think being an introvert has had more of an impact than my childhood has. While I do reach out to other people and am open about my illness, I have needed time to process each development on my own. An important part of that process for me has been writing about my experiences and thoughts along the way.

The second section deals with how Randy strove to achieve childhood dreams. How has that worked out for you? How did cancer affect your pursuit of your dreams?

I’m striving more to achieve adult dreams than childhood ones. It has taken me over 50 years to understand who I am and what is important to me. I do have a ‘bucket list’ but found that creating a list of what I had already done in my life was an even more meaningful exercise. It was confirmation to me of what a great life I’ve already had and it gave me hope that I will continue to have amazing experiences for a long time to come.

Dennis:  Kathy wrote “ I remember feeling aggravated and jealous reading about Randy’s pursuit of his childhood dreams while feeling like I’d tossed mine by the wayside for the sake of a secure paycheck. I haven’t yet completely changed gears career-wise, but my perspective is definitely different and I’m more confident that a change will be realized.”

So the discussion has begun.  What were your thoughts and reactions.  Please leave your Comments below.

Next week’s assignment: Part III “Adventures … and Lessons Learned”  Approx 50 pages.

Discussion Questions: In the beginning of this section Randy has met his pancreatuc cancer head-on, asking for the most difficult treatments available.  He seems to be in remission.  But at a follow-up visit, he discovers not only has he relapsed but has extensive metastases.  If you have dealt with relapse or metastasis, how did it feel?  How did you deal with it?

In ‘The Man in the Convertible” he relates how difficult it is to judge just how well you are doing emotionally when you are in the midst of your struggle with cancer.  How did you make that determination?

In “Pouring Soda on the Backseat” Randy asks his niece and nephew to help his kids remeber how hard he fought to stay alive as long as possible.  Your reactions?

In the next few chapters Randy talks about his relationship with his wife.  I am sure that we all gave thought to our own relationships when we were first diagnosed.  What were some of your thoughts about your spouse?

in “Jai” Randy relates that his wife kept her own journal and that it helped her deal with all those “little” issues that can nag a relationship.  Has your partner tried a journal?  or something else that helped?  She also found that having conversations with other caregivers helped.  Does reading other blogs help your spouse or just make it more difficult?

Share

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.

Comments

First Book Club Discussion — 2 Comments

  1. How did you identify with this conflict between the needs of the sick person versus the needs of loved ones?

    I wonder if it is different because my children are adults. I did not identify with this conflict, as my needs were upper most in my mind.

    To what extent do you think this conflict reflected gender orientations?

    I don’t think it would have made any difference especially in my home.

    How do you deal with self-fulfillment issues when you have a deadly disease?

    I deal with them the same way I did before cancer.

    How does this theme resonate for you in dealing with illness and family?

    I believe that it is true but I also feel that it doesn’t compare to being with them. You are absent and even though they know you are not there to physically tell them and show them.

    He worries that his young children will not remember him. What thoughts have you had about the legacy of memory that you might leave your children or grandchildren?

    This is always what breaks me up. I don’t think that his young children will really remember him. They will deep inside themselves, but they won’t either. I always feel that I will be an etc. for my grandchildren. Your grandma was, she loved you, etc. etc.

    I hope this was okay that I took part Dennis. I did not read the book but how you have written the bits here, it is easy to be able to say what I feel in response.

    You are making a difference Dennis. A real difference.

    Love Renee xoxox

Leave a Reply