Buster, the Big Fat Tumor – guest post

One of the remarkable things about cancer blogs is their propensity to capturing the best and worst of an individual’s life.  Life can overwhelm a blog.  In  a number of cases though the blog continues after the life has faded.  A person’s life is then bigger than the blog.  Morgan Strub was an adult survivor of neuroblastoma who died of the disease in March 2010.  In addition to his cancer blog, Meet Buster: My Big, Fat Tumor, Morgan “was an early pioneer in the concept of Web 2.0. Via the internet he has gathered families from across the globe to celebrate their common bonds. He has connected travelers to share inspiration and resources. Out of Morgan’s passion for getting off the beaten path to connect with people in unique and unconventional ways, DIGIHITCH.COM was born.”

In the following post his brother Mark remembers him.

Where I’m Going From Here

My life ebbs and it flows with pain and promise both.  It’s a ride I’ve grown accustomed to, but not yet accepting of.  But I’m getting there.  Because I have no choice in the matter.

Morgan was such a cool kid.  Not in the über popular, first-picked for the team kind of way.  But in a comfortable being different and having specific tastes in things and hobbies kind of way.  He introduced me to the BEST recorded music.  Hell, he might have introduced me to the concept of recorded music.

Much of my musical tastes today were shaped by Morgan’s cassette tape collection that I would borrow (steal) from as we grew up together in the same bedroom.  I don’t think he intentionally turned me on to any specific artist, but he was supportive when I would discover one.  Depeche Mode.  Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark.  Pet Shop Boys.  The Cure.  Souxie and The Banshees.  Erasure.  Oh man.  I loved Erasure…

Back then we didn’t have MTV.  I mean, it existed- but not in our house.  For pop music we snuck peaks at a show on network TV called Friday Night Videos.  It was on sort of late at night.  Yep, you guessed it.  On Friday.  Morgan or my oldest brother Michael would sit there with a tape in the VCR and the record function paused and poised for the next hint of something cool coming over the waves.  We would wear those tapes out with constantly recording over them and over again until no amount of adjusting the tracking knob would cure the static.

One Saturday morning when I was a little older, 13, and this ritual had been going on for years- Morgan was watching back a video that would soon become all the rage.  It was visually stunning to me in that it featured only the shaved head and beautiful face of a woman who emoted lyrics in a way I had not seen before.  And by her voice, I was more than stunned.  This song might have been for me the first time I really connected with music in the way that would continue to shape my life for years to come.  The song was “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

The album, “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got” became a fixture in my life.  I think it was one that all 4 of us kids enjoyed- maybe for different reasons or at different intensity levels- but it seems like we all had memorized the opening lines of that recording.  It was a prayer, spoken by Sinead O’Connor in her choppy yet poetic Irish accent.  How cool!  How exotic!  How foretelling of one of the most personal and significant struggles I would face in the next 20 years of my life…

The words of that prayer would surface again and again and again.  At church.  In “meetings.”  Sometimes on TV or in a movie.  I would liken those words to the beginning of the Sinead album instead of really, truly hearing them.  Until recently.  Now I get it.  And I want it.  Serenity.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

I can’t change that Morgan is gone.  I can’t change how others behave.  I can’t change most things.  But I can change how I view them and deal with them.  I am certain that Morgan would not want me or anyone to lose sight of this fact in favor of eternally mourning, lamenting his untimely passing and the other losses we endure now and will again.  I am going to choose to celebrate my life and his by finding joy in all of the time and gifts that he and other loved ones gave to me and all that I can give to the people I love too.

I love you, Morgan.  Thank you.

Meet Buster: My Big, Fat Tumor

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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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