Donna Peach – guest posts

Today is Wednesday and by posting these Guest Posts, we will be back on schedule after unforseeable lapses from H1N1 and family travel.  I just recently added Donna Peach’s blog to the list.  I love her name. As you may recall, my favorite chemo nurse was Donna from Georgia whom we affectionately called “Donna the Peach”.  The Donna Peach writes from her blog Donna Peach or Dancing Thru Life’s Adventures with Breast Cancer

Donna Peach

advanced cancer: thriving

One part of this disease that is overwhelming is the way it demands your attention. After your doctor tells you that you have cancer, curable or incurable, you never really stop thinking about it. I shuffle it to the back of my thoughts so it’s like a software program running in the background. But, no matter what I do, this stupid cancer is a persistent prickling awareness.

Most of us have an arsenal of activities that distract our attention, and they work for us in varying degrees and under varying circumstances. Some days we may have only enough strength to evade cancer’s oppressive mood or to cope with the physical demands of the disease or its treatment. Cancer is a potent foe.

Yet, it’s important that we reach toward other goals in our lives. It helps us to thrive and to endure the emotional, psychological and physical effects of the disease and the treatment. Having goals and making steps toward accomplishing those goals help us focus away from the negativity of those effects and to build and maintain emotional and psychological strength. While the jury is still out on whether a positive outlook directly benefits survival or prevents disease progression (see my post depression and survival), the experts still advise us that a positive attitude will help us cope. For those who have curable cancer, studies show, also, that survivors with a positive attitude make a gentler transition back to a normal life.

Whatever our goals have been, it’s important to adapt them to our current levels of energy. Exercise. Learn. Teach. Create. Pray. Play. For however long you can tolerate it, whether it’s five, ten or fifteen minutes. Keep working toward ongoing goals you have had or create new goals, and don’t be afraid to try new activities that appeal to you. Let the other parts of your life help you so that cancer cannot dominate your life 24/7. I don’t know about you, but the days that I dance or walk, work or play, write or meditate, I feel stronger and pleasantly tired. And, I feel that I’ve laughed in the face of the pink demon.

joy of simple communication

Conversation is one of the gifts of being human. I love not only language and its nuances, I love the various forms of communication and expression. I think human communication is a privilege of our species. Today was a lovely example of this, and, specifically, of enjoying the social aspects of the work environment.

I’ve never really enjoyed isolation. In fact, if I have to stay in all day, it drives me crazy. I always feel like I need to get out. I need to see people. I need to converse. While going through treatment, though, some days I do spend my entire time inside. Even when that’s physically required, psychologically I still fight the idea of it.

Today was like being set free. For some reason, being around my office and with my coworkers was overwhelmingly delightful. It didn’t have anything to do with what we discussed or what we accomplished with the conversations. It mattered that I’m fortunate to be in an environment with people who are not just amazingly supportive but sensitive and fun. The jokes, the teasing, the greetings made me feel so refreshed that, even though I was exhausted by the end of the day, as usual, I went home feeling grateful to have the kind of job I do and to be able to work with the people in my environment. I feel blessed.

from: Donna Peach

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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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