Karen Momper – guest post

For the children...

For the children...

As you are reading this, I am still at my training meeting in Las Vegas.  My wife, Tish, has been following the Caringbridge page of a friend and colleague, Karen Momper.  I don’t know why I haven’t included her site on my Cancer Blogs page yet.  But tonight (actually Monday night) Tish read aloud the following post.  Such good writing shouldn’t go unnoticed and underappreciated.  Plus she is a fellow leukemia traveler – AML.  Here she writes of the trials of being a mother with cancer.

So, Jana, my nurse at clinic at 8am this morning (yes, that’s 8 on a Sunday. Cancer treatment doesn’t honor weekend schedules.) confirmed our suspicions. The chemo effect IS cumulative after all. And boy am I feeling it.

We talked about the steroid’s effects, too. She acknowledged that yes, they sure can make you a cranky mess, and then she made the huge mistake of associating the word ‘cry’ with them. Let me tell you, that was the last thing I needed.

Next stop: church at 10am, and they are singing that servant song that I normally totally love, “won’t you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you?…”. Well, that did it. The tears started, and they haven’t really stopped all day. It is so, so humbling to allow people to serve you. I’m downright tired of it at this point, actually. I like to BE the server, thank you very much. Why oh why did this have to happen NOW? Gosh it would just be so much easier to be back in Indy and be ‘served’…in the comfort of arms that I have already been charitable with. That would be just immensely easier. But instead, here I am in this new place. With new friends. Out of my comfort zone, thousands of miles from all that had become home for me. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

I just want my old self back. My seemingly endless energy. My positive outlook. My perk. Instead, I’m left feeling this void, like, “where is that girl?” What an awful, spunk-less replacement this shell-of-a-thing is that has replaced her is, too. Will she ever find her way back into me? Boy, I sure hope so. I know my kids hope so. Poor Xavier has taken to just snuggling up next to me, sensing how zapped I am, but still begs, “Mama, will you just play some legos with me?” I just couldn’t say no again, so I went on up to his room, but literally couldn’t keep my eyes open. I just lay curled up on the bed while he built. Truly, I can’t remember ever feeling so tired and weak. Chemo just plain sucks.

The worrisome thing for me is that I have had moments of energy blips…and I cannot help but wonder what people are thinking. Like a cheery phone call where a friend says, “you sound great!”, or how I made it to Xav’s soccer game on Saturday, and it really felt good to be out and to be a little social. The problem with this is that I’m sure to most, I look like I’m putting one foot in front of the other just fine. So then I suspect people are observing, “well, she doesn’t look like she needs help/ meals/ childcare/etc…”. Tell me, how can I possibly allow myself time and energy for such negative thoughts?! But, I can assure you, they come. Usually right as one of these little energy blips nears its end, and then I slam into an insurmountable wall that I cannot hope to climb. I muster up enough strength to get inside, get up the stairs, hit the bed. And then don’t move for about 2 hours. Who lives like this? Honestly, it is driving me nuts. I can’t stand it! I can’t just check out like this. What mother could?

I am trying so hard, though, to put on a good front for the boys (as in, my little boys). The hats, the make-up, getting myself to drop-off/pick-up with a smile plastered on my face…they are such careful little observers…and so I feel like I have to be ‘on’ at all times for them. One false move on one of these fronts, and they notice the slip immediately. Even little JJ will say, “mommy, are YOU taking me to school?” Or, “will YOU take me to bed?” It’s like they can tell when it is getting to be too much for me, when I am weak, and that’s precisely when they decide they need me most. I mean, daddy comes home from work, can immediately crash in the easy chair, and they won’t bat an eye. But if I even look tired or just need to rest on the couch for a spell, they are instantly all over me, wanting lovin’, becoming overly concerned, and super-needy. They want me to be ‘normal’, their radars are tuned-in, and on alert. Unfortunately, those radars are a little too sensitive right now. Way too much pressure on me to perform…and I am too tired for performances right now.

Oh how I hope tomorrow brings more energy, more life, and a return to the glass-is-half-full mentality. There are only 2 more cycles to go, right? Today, that amount of time seems like an eternity.

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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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