Cancer Choices – guest post

Over the past week we have had the opportunity to look at different reflections about what the holidays can mean for those of us actively involved in our battle with cancer.  We have witnessed the grace and suffering of those left behind.  As we enter this new year of 2011, I wanted to highlight the optimism that can greet a new year of new beginnings.  Our guest today is a twenty-one year old ovarian cancer survivor who blogs with beauty and commitment at If Cancer Was Easy, They’d Call It Your Mom: My Journey with Ovarian Cancer

You Have Two Choices

This post comes on the heels of another Mitch dream. I’m standing before him. And we’re talking. We start to talk about something that makes us both happy, so happy in fact that we start laughing. We’re both laughing, continuing on, and before you know it, tears are streaming down my face. My tears of joy have turned into “true” tears, tears that stem from my heart, from the deepest parts of my soul that are still wearing black, that cherish this time but know that it has to have a “goodbye.” That was the beauty of the last dream. There wasn’t one. It ended with me in his arms, drifting away into simple bliss. He could obviously tell my tears were becoming something heavier as my shoulders dropped with the added weight. He gently lifted my chin up so that our eyes met. He said, “You’re sad. And it’s because of me.” That, of course, made me cry harder. He laughed with the rhythm of my sobs, and for a moment, I started to slow down. I had made him smile, and I could tell. That was always something that made me feel better. It was always his goal when I was down to make me smile. But if I got him to smile first, I felt a major sense of comfort rush over me. That even in my roughest moment, I could still make him genuinely happy. So, with a smile on his face, he gave me a sweet and serious look. (He was a master of those.) He said, “You have two choices: You can be happy, or you can miss me. I want you to be happy.” At that moment, his stern serious side broke into happiness. It was the kind of happiness that radiates. I could go on and on about what Mitch looked like happy. Boy, those were my favorite moments. It was a beautifully sweet dream, all too fleeting, yet leaving an impression…

And from this, I realized something important. I said to myself, “You have a decision to make.” Each decision makes all the difference… and it trickles down, from one to the next, and so on and so on.

You have two choices.
You can pretend like you don’t have cancer, or you can admit it.
You have two choices.
You can go through the motions or understand what’s really going on.
You have two choices.
You can run from it or stand your ground, come rain or shine.
You have two choices.
You can stay in bed, or live your life.
You have two choices.
You can live with the “label”, or break the mold.
You have two choices.
You can just stand there, or you can fight like hell.
You have two choices.
You can fight half-assed, or you can give it everything you’ve got.
You have two choices.
You can complain about what you’re doing, or just do it.
You have two choices.
You can accept what’s going on, or waste the time you have left.
You have two choices.
You can enjoy the little things, or be sad waiting for something big.
You have two choices.
You can be happy, or you can let cancer invade your entire life.
You have two choices.
You can understand the side effects or ignore them/feel even worse.
You have two choices.
You can be you or you can “be cancer.”
And when it comes down to it…
You have one choice. You have cancer.
…That doesn’t mean you don’t have options.

I have cancer. I know what’s really going on. I’m standing my ground, rain or shine. I’m getting out of bed everyday and living life. I’m breaking that damn mold and I’m fighting like hell. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. I’m doing it, trying so hard not to complain. (That one was my toughie). I accept what’s going on… I know about the time I’m working with. I absolutely enjoy the little things. I do everything I can to be happy. I am finally accepting side effects. I am myself. I am ME. Cancer does not define me.

It may feel like I haven’t accepted everything just yet, but I feel like as huge of a learning experience as this is, I can’t ever fully accept everything. It is a journey. You gain different things from the trip, and I’m picking up my tokens, my souvenirs, my charms as Sunshine might call them. I’m not letting them weigh me down, necessarily. I am making them a part of me. After all, I’ve taken everything else and made it a part of me, why not these things?

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race” –Calvin Coolidge quotes

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”— Harriet Beecher Stowe

~ If Cancer Was Easy, They’d Call It Your Mom: My Journey with Ovarian Cancer


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.


Cancer Choices – guest post — 1 Comment

  1. I am the event chair for Lake County Relay For Life. With your permission I would like to use You Have Two Choices in a team retention/recruitment letter.

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