BRICKS & Radiation Daze – theme: Remembering – guest posts

Last evening I was updating my blog lists, adding evermore cancer blogs.  I ran across two blogs.  After scanning them briefly I picked out a worthy post from each, then realized the themes were similar.  Charissa maintains the blog BRICKS for Young Adults in memory of her husband, Rick, who died of Hodgkin’s last year.  She plans to form a non-for-profit organization dedicated to connecting young cancer survivors with resources.  The post I reprint here “10” is a recollection of her life in the year since Rock’s death.

Next one of our myriad breast cancer bloggers writes about losing a friend, a cancer buddy.  She wrote “Remembering” for her blog Radiation Daze


10 months ago today my husband died. 10 months ago right now, I was waiting for hospice to come, listening to the clicking sound in my husband’s throat, knowing it wouldnt be long. After a long, terrible, restless night, he finally looked like he was asleep. He said goodbye as my son left for school, never opening his eyes, and in a barely audible whisper told him that he loved him. An hour later, he was gone.

Ive been dreading today more than any other day, truth be told. The idea of “10 months” as a marker in my relationship with my husband has been very important. We had been married for 10 months when the diagnosis of a recurrence came to us. He died 10 months later. And now, he’s been gone for 10 months. Three phases, three different pieces of a marriage.

I cant say that I am moving into some new, fourth phase. I dont know yet that Im ready to let go of it all completely or that I am moving on past my grieving. Sometimes I feel like I will always mourn him, and I think thats ok. What I can say is that I can remember things we did, I can talk about him, and I can talk to him all without crying. Oh I still cry over him sometimes, believe me, but its a little easier to remember him and feel happy when I think about the things we did together.

I often cant believe so much time has gone by. In just two more months it will have been a YEAR already. An entire YEAR since he died. I dont remember a lot of the last year, honestly, or know quite how Ive made it through. I think its a coping mechanism, this “auto pilot” mode Ive been operating in. But when I stop and look back, over the last 10 months, I can see how much Ive accomplished, how far Ive come. I can truly feel like Ive honored his life by working hard and trying to do something good for others in our situation through the work Ive done with BRICKS and by simply not spending my entire life curled up in a ball on the couch (no matter how much I may have wanted to).

So today, on this anniversary of sorts, I can close my eyes, feel my heart well up with love, and say “thank you” to the brave, beautiful man who changed my life. I will try to replace sadness at the loss of his life with gratitude for having the chance to share part of it with him. I know that I will carry him with me into the next 10 months, and the 10 after that and on and on.

Thank you, Rick. I love you.

from: BRICKS for Young Adults



I woke up this morning remembering a friend who I recently found out has passed.

Her name was Linda and she was an amazing woman. Her husband called me a few days ago. I think he must have gotten a message from Lindas’ coworkers that I had emailed her wondering how she was doing. It had been since November that I had seen or heard from her. We would go months without contact then we’d have lunch and it was like no time had passed between us.

Linda passed about a month after we had had lunch. I had no idea. Lindas’ husband said that her service was overflowing with over 400 people. I wish I could have gone and I really wish I had been able to say goodbye to her and let her know how much she meant to me.

I first met Linda when I was newly diagnosed with breast cancer. I was struggling with the decision as to whether or not to get genetic testing. A woman from the Cancer Community Center had connected us. Linda had first been diagnosed with the same exact cancer as I had and had been cancer free for 15-20 years? From our first conversation we hit it off. She was extremely supportive and inspirational. Her cancer came back in her bones and she went a few years keeping “it” at bay but the damn C took over.

We had lunch many times. Sometimes we would just sit in her car by the ocean and talk. One time we talked for over 2 hours. I felt like she really got what I was going through. She listened and didn’t judge or try to fix it. We laughed about silly things and I felt so comfortable with her.

She affected so many peoples’ lives.

There is a brochure that comes out every year at the Cancer Community Center and every year they have different peoples’ pictures in it. People who are or were dealing with the big C. I was asked if I could be one of those people. I later found out I was on the cover! Linda laughed and said we were “cover girls” because the year before she was on the cover too. Linda took me to the program at the center that gives you free makeup and teaches you how to draw on eyebrows and put on makeup so you don’t look overly made up. Its a great program called Look Good, Feel Better. She had already been to it years before but she took me anyway. It really meant a lot to me. We laughed as we put on our makeup and tried to not look like clowns.

I’m going to really miss Linda so much.

I have another friend who isn’t doing so well right now. She is in a lot of pain and has lost a lot of weight. I hate to see her suffering. She has been and is still a huge support for me. A great friend. I wish I could do something to help.

I have another friend who had a major brain aneurysm and is in rehab. She is only 42 years old but she is a fighter. She is making huge strides. I went to visit her the other day and brought her a tulip.

Sometimes the pain of others is so overwhelming. I am really trying to look at the beautiful things in the world and appreciate what I have. Be grateful. Today however….I’m sad and I’m finding it hard to not feel the pain and grief.

I suppose I’m just feeling overwhelmed this morning.

It will pass I’m sure.

I just wanted to express my feelings about my sadness this morning.

I AM very lucky in many many ways….I’m also very sad today.

from: Radiation Daze


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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