The Last “Last Lecture” Discussion – Book Club

-Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. – Randy Pausch

Today we wrap up discussion of “The Last Lecture”, begin reading “The Adventures of Cancer Bitch” by S.L. Wisenberg, and learn about a new book for caregivers.

to be reviewed...

to be reviewed...

The marketing agency for the book “When Someone You Love Has Cancer” is contacting cancer bloggers in order to get the word out on this new book which retails for only $10.99.  I have not read it yet but they are sending me a copy.  I will review it in a later post.  “Cecil Murphey … has written a loving inspirational book for cancer caregivers and family members. Cec isn’t new to cancer. His intimate care for his wife as she fought cancer is evident on the pages of this sweetly written book. From the cover of this beautifully illustrated book to the closing remarks, he guides caregivers through a gentle question and answer session. Prayers for difficult situations are scattered throughout the book and personal illustrations from cancer caregivers help validate and encourage readers.

~ “The Last Lecture” ~

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?

I had always had dreams of sailing on extended voyages.  At the time of diagnosis I had several boats in various states of disrepair.  This was a 30 year dream and hard to discard.  But it seemed necessary.  Five years later the dream lingers but it does not tug so strongly.

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’)

I was in a helping profession.  When I was able to return to work between remissions I felt I had something extra to give.  Not being able to return to nursing has left a vacuum.  My writings seemed to have helped people though, especially those with the same rare disease, T-PLL.  Hopefully in publishing this blog, I have found a way to ‘play it forward.”

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 positive enough.  Was this ever an issue with you?  Did other people suggest that you had to be positive or else?

People invariably want to suggest that you be ‘positive’.  Certainly this helps, if not physiologically (though there is some evidence suggestive of this) then at least emotionally and psychologically.  Some people wanted urgently that I “hope for a cure”.  That was too big a step for me.  Instead I hoped for a remission of my cancer.  Then I hoped that it would last a long time.  Then I hoped that Campath might work a second time.  Then I hoped that transplant might prolong my second remission.  I was able to hope for a series of smaller steps, smaller victories that when strung together might mean a cure.

Randy and kids

Randy and kids

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

I was never in the same position as Randy, being definitely ‘terminal” (though as novelist John Irving has pointed out “we are all terminal cases”).  That is no excuse.  In the first year and later when I relapsed, I hoped that I did and said things to the people close to me that would give them something substantial to remember me by.

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

“Dreams for My Children” was difficult to read.  I identified.  I too cried in the shower.  How touchingly true his remark “in my every encounter with (my kids) I’m saying goodbye.”  Randy spent a lot of time ‘making memories’ as we all must have advised ourselves to do.  Randy is afraid that his 18 month old daughter will not remember him.  But he wants “her to grow up knowing that (he) was the first man ever to fall in love with her.”  The scene in which the ‘last lecture’ audience sings “Happy Birthday” to his wife, Jai.  Then she, hugging him tightly as the audience’s applause fades in their ears, whispers “Please don’t die”.  Randy admits it sounded Hollywood scripted.  But such things happen.  I have seen it.  So have you.  The community looks forward to your comments.

** I just discovered the book’s website (The Last Lecture | Randy Pausch ).  It is really worth looking at.  There are many extras that give context to the book and its writing.  But you may especially like “Media Coverage” where you will find obituaries from the New York Times, the Wasington Post and other newspapers as well as videos of interviews by Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer. Be sure to scroll down the whole list for other videos and features.

July Book Selection

July Book Selection

~ New Reading Assignment:  “The Adventures of Cancer Bitch” pages 1- 40 up the the February 28 posts, dealing with the period from her diagnosis to her mastectomy.

~ Discussion Questions:  Sandi Wisenberg is a professional writer.  How did you react to the writing style of the book?  In the February 7 post “Telling” she describes her experience of telling various others about her diagnosis.  How was your own experience of having to tell the significant and not-so-significant others in your life about your diagnosis?  In the February 19 entry, Sandi talks about having her somewhat elderly mother taking care of her again.  What kinds of experiences and reactions did you have when others suddenly were taking care of you?  Did you have any celebratory parties at the beginning of your treatment like the one the author describes in the February 24 entry?  What do you think about Sandi’s conflicting reactions to organizations like the Susan Komen Foundation?


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 “Last Lecture” Discussion – Book Club — 4 Comments

  1. 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’)

    I, too, am in a helping profession – clinical social work. I am contemplating making a shift in my work…not away form social work, but into Palliative Care. I have always worked in pediatrics but feel a very strong pull toward end of life care now. “Paying it forward” is a concept that really ahs defined my life even way before I first heard the expression…it just seems the right and compassionate way to be…being able to give (time, treasure and talent)is a blessing and I cherish it.

  2. I watched Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture. What struck me about it is how he wanted to be remembered – for his stuffed animals, that kids should always be allowed to draw on the walls. I think it was a nice take on a awful situation.

  3. Just wanted to say hi.I have “just” lost a family member last Wed. with pancratic cancer. It was tough seeing my sister going through this with her daughter.Chatted a bit with her but what can one say when angry themselves at this darn thing.It is second member with this and it “SUCKS” big time.I need positivity for this and today not there, however I know tomorrow is another day and a bright one,right? Last Lecture was fantastic.Laughed,cried,cheered .

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