“The Last Lecture” – discussion 3


I think that I am finding the middle sections of the book less compelling.  But then I began to wonder about my reaction.  These were life lessons from a college professor who, from the reading, did not necessarily have a life-threatening illness.  Since my motivation was to read the journal of a fellow cancer patient, those parts about his life outside of cancer did not have as strong an appeal for me.  But I think that had to do more with my expectations than with the material.

Randy was a teacher.  He was a man with a terminal illness.  And his object was to set about laying down “lessons learned”.  Those lessons reflected his personality, his upbringing, his inclinations and biases.  In short they were a reflection of the sum of his life, of the person he was.  I think many of us, if the terminality of our disease were imminent, might feel the compulsion to respond to such an opportunity.  For many this is one of things that lies in our motivation for blogging.  To let the world know what we are thinking and feeling as we encounter this brush with our own mortality.

His cancer really did help him  to focus though.  In “I’m on My Honeymoon, But If You Need Me…” he offers advice that we as cancer patients can readily connect with.  “Time must be explicitly managed,”  “You can always change the plan, but only if you have one,” and “Are you spending your time on the right things?”

What did you think?  Please feel free to leave your comments below.  (I will be announcing July’s book club selection later today on the Book Club page or in tomorrow’s post)

Next Reading Assignment: finish the book – “It’s About How to Live Your LIfe” and “Final Remarks” about 78 pages.

Discussion Questions: Your reactions to thisSomehow, with the passage of time, and the deadlines that life imposes, surrendering becomes the right thing to do.” Does this apply to anything you have gone through?

Have you been able to use the concept of “Paying it forward” (helping someone else because someone helped you at a crucial time – paying a debt ‘forward’ instead of paying it ‘back’) (Chapter 44-“Show Gratitude”)

In “A Way to Understand Optimism” Randy talks about the trap of feeling guilty about your progress or lack of progress with cancer because you think that maybe you weren’t posiotve enough.  Was this ever an issue with you?  Did other people suggest that you had to be positve or else?

What do you think about the concept of ’emotional insurance’ in the chapter “The Input of Others”?

Your reactions to “Final Remarks”..???


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.


“The Last Lecture” – discussion 3 — 1 Comment

  1. Re: planning and spending time on the right things.

    I now plan less than I used to. I like the freedom of waking up in the morning and choosing exactly what I want to do with my day (when I’m feeling well enough, of course). I’ve let go of my need to be ‘productive’ and have more fully experienced the days and moments. I don’t commit to things ahead of time; I’ll sometimes play the cancer card and ask if I can decide at the last minute because I might not be feeling up to it that day. I’ve let go of the guilt of what I used to think of as wasting time. Sitting under a tree on a beautiful day now feels like time well spent. I used credit for the first time in years to spend 3 weeks in Europe with my son. I feel comfortable that I am spending my time on the right things.

    (If my comment seems a bit vague, it’s because I loaned my book to a friend and it’s been awhile since I read the chapters…).

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