Shira Shaiman’s Cancer Blog – guest post

I received this interesting email recently I’ve been blogging about my journey through metastatic rectal cancer, mothering young children, alternative therapies, and the spiritual/emotional crash course of living with this illness. I just returned in Feb 2012 from 5 mos of alternative therapy in China too.”

Rectal cancer is relatively rare.  It deserves a rare voice. ~ Shira Shaiman’s Blog

About Shira:

This blog is dedicated to the explorations of my time of healing. I am a happily married 39-year-old mother of two boys, Toby (born May 2007) and Leo (born February 2010). Shortly after giving birth to Leo I was diagnosed with rectal cancer, on my 39th birthday of all days. A bit of a shock. I had imagined the weeks and months after my second child’s birth quite a bit differently, but cancer had something else in mind for me. So here I am, trying to make sense of this interesting time of life. Writing about it helps. A lot.

April 10, 2010

I feel vulnerable, especially at night. After the kids are in bed and the house is quiet, a dark space opens up like a mirror to reflect what I’ve pushed down and staved off all day: cancer. Dear God. This time it’s me. And I want David’s arms around me. I want to wear him like a blanket. I want him to protect me from this or, better, make it go away. And so I tell him that I don’t want him to leave the house to go pick up that free garbage can with a lid someone was giving away up the street. I tell him I want him to stay with me. I don’t even want him to go downstairs, to be on a different floor. Me, who is usually so independent and strong. David has called me his rock. Now I am small. I am so tiny I can disappear and never again hear the words cancer or chemotherapy. But then I picture Toby’s electric smile and long dark eyelashes and I remember the weight of baby Leo’s warm little body nuzzled against my breast, his mouth agape and a few drops of milk dripping down his cheek. I breathe in his hair every chance I get. I tell Toby I love him all day long. I know I have no choice. This story has been set into motion and I’m already somewhere inside of it. Wave after wave hitting against me. Salt and cool water. Wearing me down. Polishing me smooth.

February 2012

I’m not saying that I am a hero of any kind, or that I have any enlightened wisdom to share with you. I think I am still somewhere in the wilderness, still seeking, still learning what it means to heal and therefore what it means to face death and to be alive and at home inside myself and in the world. Oh, how could I have been so obtusely blind to myself! This whole time in Asia that I have been immersed in cancer treatments I have also, and just as importantly, been unwinding the threads of my life to find that essential, perfect, shining core that exists within each and every one of us. As I prepare to go home, I realize that that’s all I’ve been trying to do since I arrived here, and on some level for a good portion of my life. My journey for healing is my quest for home.

When I look in the mirror now at my bald head, the image that peers back at me doesn’t say cancer or victim or the ravages of chemotherapy. I see warrior. I see mystic who has renounced worldly attachments. I see grit and edginess and a cool attitude. I see the shadow of new hair. I see the promise of rebirth.

~ from: Shira Shaiman’s Blog


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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