I’m Baaack!

Sorry for the prolonged and unannounced delay in publication.  I have not relapsed, disappeared, or faded into medical obscurity.  My colonoscopy was negative.  I am alive and (relatively) well on the east coast, in Roslindale (Boston), Massachusetts.   A confluence of events set me on a detour from blogging.  I was weaker than I thought from my hospitalization.  Then Tish got sick with a terrible cough and cold that she unwittingly passed on to me.  I have felt terrible.  At some level I thought that if I couldn’t  write a good enough post, then I should not write at all.

The excuse for our trip east was at attend a symposium put on by BMT InfoNet, a bone marrow transplant support organization.  We were strongly considering canceling the trip. But on the day we were to leave, we both felt marginally better and decided to go for it.  It was a longer drive than usual, what with all the coughing and sneezing in the car.  The symposium was good and we networked with a number of survivors and their caregivers.  These were, in a very real sense, “my people.”  The many sessions we attended will provide fodder for upcoming posts.  I can report of spirituality and cancer, GVHD, integrative medicine, and a host of other topics.

Right now we are relaxing at my son’s house, taking turns feeding and rocking the twins, Gemma and Molly.  We spent this afternoon at the John F. Kennedy Museum and Library out on the bay in Dorchester.  Improving access to healthcare was one of the hallmarks of the JFK legacy, one carried forward by his brother, the late Senator Edward Kennedy.  It seemed especially significant that the healthcare reform bill was passed just yesterday.  One of the exhibits at the museum spoke to all of the fears and hysteria evoked by the creation of Medicare almost fifty years ago, complete with dire warnings of a slippery slope towards socialized medicine.  The same fears were whipped up thirty years before that with the launching of Social Security.  So if these cries sound familiar, they are.  They been shouted for nearly 80 years.  Here in Massachusetts, home of the original tea party, mandatory health care has been a welcome fact of life for some years.  And, as I have written before, small businesses are thriving here in Boston.  There seem to be a hundred small independent businesses for every chain store I see.

Okay, I’ll step off my soapbox now.  I will try to write another post or two before we leave.  Ordinarily I will draft a couple of posts and schedule them for staggered publication before I leave on a trip.  But all the illness intervened.

And, oh yeah, I showed the tender lesion on my arm (the one I was to see my dermatologist about the day I was admitted to the hospital) to a dermatologist lecturing at the conference.  He identified it as a squamous cell carinoma that needs to come off as soon as I return home.  I also learned that the primary risk factor for the development of sarcomas is being immunosuppressed. The irony – not only is this cancerous growth a legacy of my transplant, but I have it diagnosed after a graft-versus-host disease lecture at a transplant conference.  Bone marrow transplant!  the things we do to stay alive.  Yet, at the conference, the resounding consensus of “my people” was that we’d do it all over again if we needed to.

Take care, Dennis


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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