Home…This Moment – guest posts

If you look at my counter on the left, you’ll see that we have passed 100,000 visits.  I mean to celebrate this moment with an announcement of a cool new project and feature.  But it will have to wait.  This way I can keep you in suspense.  I’ll give you a hint – it involves virtual interaction.

Spring weather has drawn me away from the keyboard into the gardens.  Also I started a one month, five hour a day, temporary, non-professional job scoring essay answers on a test.  I went to the local Oncology Nurses Society meeting the other day and made a plea to any mangers present for a eight hour per week position working on the odd project or something.  That’s enough news from here.

We haven’t heard from the gynecological cancer folks lately.  After a little digging I ran across two nice little posts from Kathy, an ovarian cancer survivor and retail pharmacist writing regularly at Diary of a Pharmgirll.

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Having cancer is described as a journey. Cancer patients talk to each other in these terms. “Where are you in your journey?” The term journey encompasses everything, including but not limited to your physical ordeals, your emotional status, your spirital well-being, your financial troubles, your body, mind and spirit. Cancer patients have a memorized spiel that can sum up their place in their journey. “I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer and had cyto-reductive surgery in April 2010. I had a hysterectomy, omentumectomy, bilateral oophorectomy, appendectomy and was left with an ileostomy. I had 6 rounds of chemo from July to October 2010, IV taxol and carboplatin. I then had a second-look surgery where my ileostomy was reversed and micropresence of disease was found on biopsy. I am now in chemo for 6 months, from January to July 2011, IV taxol, IP cisplatin and IP taxol. I feel okay, all things considered.” Depending on what questions are asked, that’s my spiel. It locates me, tells other cancer peeps where I have been. I want to hear their travel stories so I can figure out where I am going. What to avoid, what to be sure to do, what to expect. I need their travel tips.

I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled a little bit around this globe in my lifetime. I can tell you that there is always a point in a trip where I look forward to returning home. I want to eat my favorite food, or I miss my favorite socks, or I want to speak English. This doesn’t detract from the trip, but rather enriches the trip as I stretch my boundaries while I learn to appreciate all the differences in this grand old world. I’ve come home a better person each time. One of my favorite memories is returning home through customs in Washington D.C. dragging my favorite hardsided vault of a suitcase behind me. The customs agent looked at my passport, smiled warmly and said softly “Welcome Home”. That moment is imprinted on my experience. I was HOME. I could eat McDonald’s french fries, watch Jeopardy in English, dig out my favorite clothes from the closet. Home.

Us cancer peeps, on all our unique cancer journies, long for that moment when we get to be Home. But we don’t get that. We don’t get to be Home ever again. We are on a long arduous journey for the rest of our lives. We have to learn a new language and get up speed fast. Those favorite socks don’t feel the same to numb feet. My favorite food is just plain gross today. Today I am longing for the past, for the person I used to be, for the place I used to inhabit. Today I want to go home.

This moment

I have seen the end and it isn’t pretty. I have witnessed the sequelae of ovarian cancer through the women who have gone before me. I watch and listen as their cancer recurs, from the first little sign until the end. From the first elevated CA125 result, through bowel obstructions, through the feeding tubes, the pain medication pumps, the pleurisy, the lymph edema, the cachexia, the hospice care admissions, the delirium, then one day it’s finally over. It’s not much to look forward to. It would be nicer to be run over by that truck everyone is always telling me about. You know the truck, as in “we could all be hit by a truck at any moment”. That would certainly be a lot less trouble than the slow demise that seems to be the usual experience. Today, I learned of yet another ovarian cancer sister, Pateeta , who has been admitted to hospice care. Today, I went to support group and the sickest  woman in the room is another OC sister. Today, these woman and their experiences weigh heavily on my mind. They motivate me to truly live while I can, to not waste a single day or a single moment.
Today, I will live the best life I can. I will eat good foods to nourish my body. I will walk in the park and hold my face to the sun. I will breath deeply and fill my lungs with fresh air. I will be present in my body, feeling the muscles in my legs as they carry me where I want to go. I will own my strength and be grateful for it. I will expand my mind with reading. I will exercise my creativity. I will share my view of the world. I will hope for comfort for my friends and family and myself. I will connect. That’s the best life I can imagine.

“I got this moment that I’m in right now and nothin else at all.”
~ Todd Snider

~ from the blog: Diary of a Pharmgirll

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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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