My Cancer Life Unfolds

Angels of Mercy

Angels of Mercy

Journal: March 2002 – We continue to document this experience on film.  My new camera is kept in our canvas clinic bag.  We take pictures of the nurses working, of me and each of the nurses, the front office staff, and even of some of the patients that we know better.  We get double prints and give the extras away to staff and patients.

One day we decide to stop the Benadryl completely as it is a small dose and is unlikely to be the reason I do not react. More likely is the idea that my body has, at long last, acclimated to CamPath.  I do note that the nausea drug, Zofran, still causes me to feel a bit sleepy and “wobbly-headed” as Donna describes it.  But I do not feel the overwhelming need to sleep any longer and can stay awake if I desire.  But Zofran is the next drug on my list to consider discarding.  It is very expensive and may not be necessary.  We do think that the CamPath itself causes some immediate feelings of fatigue and unwellness.  But the CamPath I will keep.  I am halfway through the thirty-six treatments.  Lately the nurses have had a bit of difficulty starting my IV s, sometimes requiring two or even three attempts, this despite my intentional efforts to drink at least a quart of water on the evenings prior to treatment days.

My life outside of treatment is improving.  One day I needed to g to my hospital because I had to drop off papers in Human Resources.  I decided to go up to the oncology floor and surprise people.  My white count was high enough and I would stay off of the wards containing patient rooms.  I had a very nice visit with everyone.  They seemed to flock to me in groups for hugs and salutations.  Some people cry.  Others tell me how much better I look now than I did the Monday before Christmas when I met with the staff.  As always we recorded all of these now precious events on film.

Last week a group of people from the hospital came to visit me around dinner.  They brought with them three large pizzas, soda pop, and an enormous basket plus another box filled with goodies. It took me an hour to open everything.  This included ten videos, two twenty dollar gift certificates for movie rentals, a Yanni CD, six cans of Pringles, three boxes of cookies, numerous candy, crackers, snacks, cookie mix, assorted nuts, health mix, a tea pot and matching cup, three large mugs, two filled with chocolate, more chocolate, aromatherapy candles, books, stuffed bears including one which was handmade, a one-person flannel body wrap, seven boxes of tea and tea collections, crayons, and toys such a Silly Putty, Silly String, a deck of trick cards, a balloon maker, soap bubbles, and other articles to numerous to itemize.  My friends do continue to amaze me.

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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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