The Seasons of Cancer

Spring is Here

Spring seems to have come early and boldly.  Here in the Midwest we have had a spat of exceptionally warm, summer-like days.  Days filled with promise and potential.  That is what Spring is about, the familiar themes of rebirth, renewal, redemption.  The seasons used to color my illness when it was more acute.  During my first bout with leukemia, Spring coincided with my approaching remission.  That summer of 2002 became a time of celebration that Tish and I fully exploited by traveling in Scandinavia, a pre-cancer plan two years in the making.

For several falls after that, while I lay more certainly under the cloud of relapse, I feared the coming of autumn with its symbolic representation of that other side of life, the withering, the dying, the succumbing to the cold of Winter.  For reasons hardwired into our being over the eons, snow and frigid air foreshadowed our slim grasp on life.

But I have been, and continue to be, sick in all the seasons.  My original disease occurred in winter, my relapse in early Spring, my transplant procedure in late summer, I lost my sight at the beginning of another summer.  I think that it must be worse for those diagnosed in Spring.  What a cruel trick!  Just when you are sensing life blossoming all around you, just when you are making plans for picnics, vacations, and adventures, Life reveals its vicious alternative plans.

I have always thought though that it was worse to feel dreadful on a bright, sunny, warm, day than to feel the same on a cold, cloudy one.

This post is not going where I wanted.  I have wandered off.  I really just wanted to lament that Spring caught my body unawares.  While I was looking forward to the change of seasons and making myriad plans for gardening and other projects, I have not tended to the state of my body.  I finally got off steroids in December after three years on the stuff.  My muscle mass has diminished over those years.  And the sequential infections of the past winter has further deconditioned my physical state.

The sudden arrival of beautiful weather prompted me outside and into the garden.  But after a few minutes of toiling I feel worn out, fatigued beyond my meager efforts.  Taking care of Isabel and Sophia and tending to a few daily household chores mask my decline.  I think that I am keeping it with life, although the girls can be draining.  When challenged by more vigorous tasks, the truth comes out.  I feel mishapened and worn.  Each day I get further behind in my imagined set of garden goals.  The unseasonable weather accelerates the progress of nature, further outstripping my ability to keep up.

Well, there is still time.  I just can’t hurry it.  I still have that Silver Sneakers gym membership.  I felt better when I was exercising.  So right now I should probably leave the cloistered, sedentary world of my study.  Right now I should shower, dress and take a step out into the sunshine.  Three hours before the girls arrive.  Time to get some real work done.  I think I will.


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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