Continuing Joys of Survivorship

Babies 1 and 2 - 12/09/09

Babies 1 and 2 - 12/09/09

Sometimes I reflect quietly at all that has happened in the almost eight years since my diagnosis.  I reflect on those things that might have never happened.  Indeed, for the longest time, I had not the faith that they would happen.  The thoughts and dreams were always weighted down by what I fervently believed to be the shadow of my impending death by a final bout of leukemia.

Over a period of months after my first remission, I carefully compiled at list of music that I would like to have played at my funeral services – the violin piece “Meditation” from the opera Thais, Faure’s “Pie Jesu” from his Requiem, other lonely beautiful pieces, closing with a group sing-a-long of cowboy-singer Gene Autry’s theme song “Happy Trails”.

I have recounted in my journal and in many speeches the myriad blessings I have experienced since my remission – seeing children graduate, mature, find love, marry and have children of their own; traveling the world, having unforgettable experiences with my wife; being a big part of the childhoods of my granddaughters, Sophia and Isabel.

Yesterday a new miracle – identical twin daughters delivered from Coppelia, wife of my eldest, Nathan at a hospital in Boston.  The first weights six pounds, twelve ounces; the second six pounds, four ounces.  Both about eighteen inches long.  No names announced yet, though three first and two middle names are on the list, awaiting the seeds of personality to emerge from their tiny pink bodies.

So today is not the time for a survivor to look back.  Rather it is a time for looking forward.  Look towards the future.  And yet the only future that any of us can know for certain is the Now.  Babies remind us of that.  Cancer reminds us of that.

Sophia and Isabel - 12/09/09

Sophia and Isabel - 12/09/09


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.


Continuing Joys of Survivorship — 2 Comments

  1. For me, the stories of new life make the stories of ‘struggling in life’ so worth every needle stick, every test result, every moment of my life in cancer. Congrats, Grandpapa! Give those babies a special hug from a distant but happy friend….

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