Cancer News and Views

New Bedford harbor

Here’s a little update on my situation and on some interesting cancer news that I have received in emails lately.

Headline:  1 in 20 Americans is a cancer survivor (CNBC)

Looking for Work:

I am beginning to understand the frustration of America’s unemployed.  The loss of a substantial portion of my disability benefits has left me scrambling for some kind of part-time employment.  All the news about the aging of the Baby Boomers coupled with steady talk about a nursing shortage would seem to indicate that I should have no problem returning to the field.  Intuitively, yes.  In point of fact, no.

The economy seems to have made the healthcare industry cautious.  As an old-timer my first impulse was to search the want ads.  But the classified section is skinny even  if it shows up in the daily paper.  And cruising through the newspaper reveals more ads for training schools than for actual jobs.  A recent announcement of EMT  jobs listed a requirement for a $10 application packet fee.

My next step was to look to the web.  I have signed up for numerous nursing groups resulting in daily deposits in my electronic mailbox of a broad range of nursing positions.  Problem is all are full-time and almost none of them are local.

The whole application process has been streamlined as well.  You set up accounts with various healthcare employers, establishing and electronic application and resume.  Then you must reapply for each new listed job that you interested in.  There are generally no contact names or numbers.  In fact you are advised that you will only be contacted if you are offered an interview.  Your resume must be simple and streamlined in order for it to be correctly scanned int the company’s database.

I am looking for 8-12 hours of professional (nursing) work per week or perhaps 20-25 hours of non-professional work.  It looks like I will only be able to secure very part-time nursing work through networking.  So if any of you out there have any connections, please let me know.  I have 25 years healthcare experience mainly in oncology but also in mental health.  I have been a clinical nurse, a nurse manager, a nursing educator, a speaker and consultant, a project developer, and I run two websites.  I can work from home on my computer.  I can travel locally.  Maybe there is a job out there that can use some of my talents.

Launchpad Winner:

From my email box came news that Anne Cheung was one of the winners of this contest which annually makes a cash award to five individuals who have designed projects to transform their community.  Anne’s Big Idea: Cancer patients face tremendously daunting tasks in managing and coping with their disease. Chinese-American cancer patients with limited English proficiency suffer additional uncertainty and emotional stress because of a lack of information and support in their native language. In a 2005-2007 survey, 65 percent of working-age Chinese adults and 90 percent of elderly Chinese in New York had English limitations. I would like to help to develop a Chinese cancer support group, which will provide information and psychosocial support in Chinese to these patients in New York.  (


A while back we published our first fictional work by a woman who was inspired by the struggles of her mother and brother, both diagnosed with astrocytomas.  We are sad to announce that Marissa’s brother passed away last month.  The following is excerpted from her eulogy: I’m going to be travelling on a long trip, starting this summer. I asked Mickey what peaks he would climb if he was still able. We agreed on a list of 11 peaks, throughout the Pacific Coast of both North & South America. So, leave a message to Mickey on the sheet, and it’ll be cut into 11 pieces. I’ll leave a piece at the summit of each peak. As many of us can attest, sometimes the people that inspire us the most, are our next door neighbors, our football coaches, our siblings, or our ski instructors. So, thanks in advance for participating in this journey, dedicated to Mickey, and my luckiness to have him as brother.

From there, I’d like to add, as I grew older, I was able to appreciate my brother, Mickey. He was the one who wasn’t afraid to break away, and carve out a really fantastic life for himself. He showed me how to live a life of joy, and share that with a community. This gave me confidence to strike out on my own path.

That’s not to say every moment was great. There were many farts in the face, destroyed forts, and tickle torture sessions, to be sure.

But, no matter what, I feel the same as most of you feel: Mickey always wanted the best for everyone. I didn’t just lose a brother; like you, I lost a friend. A friend that knew me my whole life! Unravel Cancer: Experiences with family battling cancer

Shared Cancer Experiences:

Terry Halsey wrote me recently.  Terry has an interesting website, an experimental resource, a repository of personal cancer stories.  Some stories are written by blog-authors.  Others are by persons who simply responded to this offer to share their stories.  What is unique here is a collection of accessible experiences organized from one cover page.  It’s a good place to start from someone just diagnosed, someone with an impulse to share.  Terry is looking for ideas and more stories.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to tell your own story, if your own blog seems like too big a step, this could be a good outlet. Even if you have your own blog, this is yet another avenue to be heard.  And the link to Steve Dunn’s work is worth the visit.  The internet is big enough for all our collected narratives.  – Shared Experience Cancer Support Database

National Cancer Survivors Day:

It’s coming up in a couple of months.  Information and merchandise at


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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