Cancer Book Club and Other Thoughts – 2010

the Present ... and Future

the Present ... and Future

This is my first ‘freshly written” post of the New Year, the start of a New Decade.  What this year and this decade hold for each of us is, of course, unknowable.  That is what makes any new beginning interesting and, at the same time, scary.  How many of us will find ourselves cured?  How many of us will earn our  remission status, then watch it hold on stubbornly or else slip into dreaded relapse?  Who among us will bravely decide on a first or maybe second transplant?  For whom will this passing decade be marked as the years of dark foreboding, being eclipsed by the coming years of bright rebirth?  And how many new readers and writers will find their way to Being Cancer and the whole cancer blogging community, glad that they discovered it but deeply saddened that they had occasion to seek it?

These are worthy and timely speculations.  Useful sometimes.  Unavoidable sometimes.  But most of us have learned that our best point of focus is on the here and now.  We are still here in Boston.  The twins, Gemma and Molly, approaching their one month birthday,  are stirring slightly from their playpad on the living room floor.  Outside the snow is piling up quietly.  Inside the hum of the furnace is broken only by Molly’s hiccups.  It makes for a reflective time.  And it makes being in the present easy and enjoyable.

What might 2010 bring to this website?  Quite a bit if my plans and energy remain true.  I want to expand the “Cancer Blogs” list to perhaps 1000 entries.  I plan to make it easier to use with explanations of which blogs are active and which are not, to include the specific sub-diagnosis more often, and to improve the navigation features.  Likewise I want to build on the “Reviews” section, eventually featuring a Top Ten in cancer books and movies.  I want to improve the graphics and add useful widgits, moving the site to more of a Web 2.0 interactive design.  Sometime this year I will open a new website to feature my on-line journal, Diary of an Illness, in its entirety.  This will remain a free on-line publication, as it has been the past eight years on the Oncology Nursing Society website.  A number of schools utilize the Diary in courses about cancer and illness.  And, of course, we will rejoin our Book Club. I have listed the next five or six books in the “Book Club” section.  You can order new and used copies of the books directly through this site if you wish.

Our January Book Club Selection is Cancer on Five Dollars a Day (chemo not included): How Humor Got Me Through the Toughest Journey of My Life by Robert Schimmel, stand-up comedian and his battle with stage III non-Hodgkins lymphoma., 1/29/09
“Personal, profane, often overdone and equally often hilarious…The book bursts with life, and its message of fighting back—coupled with its equally strong message of trying anything when you have nothing to lose—is sure to resonate with families dealing with any type of serious disease, not just cancer.”, 2/5/09
“Incredibly interesting and very, very funny…While this is not what I’d call a light read, it is anything but grim. It’s the story of an extraordinary man who is painfully honest about himself, his illness, and how it changed him. It’s the archetypal human drama; the hero and the telling are beautiful but raw…I highly recommend Schimmel’s book. You’ll get to know him and learn something, all while laughing your head off.”, 3/21/09
“A very fast read…[Schimmel] tells his story without pulling any punches…Cancer on $5 a Day is written in a friendly, relaxed manner that helps the reader to immediately empathize with Schimmel’s plight.”

Omaha World Herald, 3/26/09
“Schimmel spilled a goulash of emotions, thoughts, observations and roguish jokes into his paperback.”

~ Reading Assignment: First three chapters, thru page 82

~ Discussion Questions: Compare your reaction to diagnosis to the authors. How does a person’s background mediate how they’ll react to news of cancer?  How effectively does the author capture the novelty and horror of those early days?  What was your reaction to how Schimmel dealt with his various relationships?



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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