Jen’s Cancer Fight – Guest Post

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This week I found a pretty funny post dealing with the anxiety and “Murphy’s law” kinds of things that happen before a big follow-up test.  Our guest blogger, Jen, a survivor of primary mediastinal large B-cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma, offers some pointed insight into the experience.  She writes at Jen’s Cancer Fight.  The main post was written last September, the follow-up post at the end was published just last month.  I know you’ll enjoy both – for different reasons.

Letting the crazies win

(September 28, 2009)

Admission:  I’ve been in therapy since last October, working through some of the stuff that goes along with being a cancer patient.  And I’ve learned a lot, including accessing chapters-worth of healthy coping skills that were somehow missing from my user’s manual.

I’ve put all of them to use over the past two weeks or so, as I approached my first PET scan since the transplant.  Visualizing Dr. Spira giving me the good news.  Keeping busy.  Exercising.  Minimizing googling “post-transplant relapse”.   But yesterday, the day before my appointment, I just didn’t feel like using coping skills.  I just wanted to freak out.  Because I’m 35 years old with two tiny kids and a joyful life and a circle of warm, fun friends and a husband I adore and lots of ideas about a rich and engaged future and I have had two bouts with cancer and been through such crap and done 9 rounds of serious, serious chemo and 28 days of radiation and a f’ing stem cell transplant and lost my hair twice and crapped myself in pain and already am pretty sure I’ll end up with some sort of secondary cancer induced by all of this poisonous treatment in 10 or 20 years, best case, and called in every favor I’ve ever been owed and relied on the kindness and generosity of my friends to get through it and am just starting to give back and I have this nagging cough that won’t go away and I know I’ve fired my two anti-cancer torpedoes and if I relapse now there’s not a lot of hope for a cure and I’ll just spend the rest of my life in some sort of treatment and it is just not fair.

So yesterday I let the crazies win.

My options were to go an a major bender, to Xanex myself into oblivion, to devour mountains of food, to pick up a pack of Marlboro Lights and go for it, or to indulge in some seriously compulsive behavior.  I went with the compulsive behavior, went to the store for 20 pounds of bread flour, and started making sourdough breads.

Right now my countertops are groaning under the weight of loaves rising, starters multiplying, soakers soaking.  Vermont sourdough.  French country boule.  Sweet potato walnut batards.  Whole wheat polenta loaves.  Sesame semolina.  Something with figs….still working on that one.  Rye.  All wild-yeast raised!   There’s a thin coat of flour on every flat surface of the first floor.    It’s nutty.  But seriously, if you have issues, knead some dough.  It works.

Anyhow.  Crazies have won.  I showed up for my scan at 8 am this morning (having fed the starter and taken 4 loaves out of the fridge, where they’ve been retarding overnight), waited for an hour, and then learned that the scan camera was down.  So I’m home, waiting for a call from the radiology practice, twitching like a meth addict, and getting ready to bake.

Anyone want some bread?



(January 5, 2010)

Of cancer…..

Of worries……

Of anxiety…..

To do whatever I want for the rest of my long life!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

from: Jen’s Cancer Fight


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.


Jen’s Cancer Fight – Guest Post — 1 Comment

  1. Thanks, Dennis, for the stage. I’m feeling so good these days that I haven’t posted much on my blog, but I think I is so useful to leave real-time accounts of these treatments up and public on the internet. Reading the experiences of other members of Club Cancer was so valuable to me on the front side of each rabbit hole…

    I appreciate the exposure, and welcome comments and e-mails, especially from anyone looking for information (and hope!)on R-CHOP, on autologous stem cell transplants, or on heading into cancer treatment of any kind with young kids at home.


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