Survivorship 2014 – guest post


This arrived in my comment box today.  I send it out as a belated New Year’s gift to readers.  Amy Ruth is a survivor.  2013 was a rough year.  One of the crises she faced was the diagnosis of her father with T-PLL, the same, aggressive disease that turned my life.  Her essay shows us that cancer, like other life trials, affect not just one or two persons, but all those within the orbit of one’s personally experienced life.  Amy writes at amy ruth, writer / scribbles from a bean bag

The things we hold on to determine how we face this new year!

I know. It sounds weird. Today, I’m not feeling the Happy New Year cheer. Weird.  After all, it’s New Year’s Day, right? I know.

But yet, I have this glitch in my heart, a lump in my throat, and tears rolling down my checks.

Maybe… it’s because I’m travel-worn as we drove home for 17 straight hours yesterday with only two stops (seriously, all 5 of us are gladiator-ish road warriors!).

Maybe… it’s because I’m über emotional that I have to resume my planning, cooking, laundering, mommy lifestyle (which I do love and cherish deep down, seriously.).

Maybe… it’s because I’m a bit overwhelmed as I see all the tasks to be done but only want to resign to “vacation mode” lounging around, drinking coffee, and watching football (Go Gamecocks!). Maybe.

Although, dubious questions still hang in my heart, linger like steam in my brain:


What will 2014 hold?

What unexpected pain awaits me within the grid lines of this calendar year?

This time last year, hope and joy bounced in my soul anticipating the growth and change that would come in the lives of my loved ones.

I NEVER could have guessed that a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis would be delivered to my oldest son, determining a stringent management for the rest of his life. Never. In a million years.

I NEVER could have imagined that my dad would be diagnosed with a rare leukemia (T-cell PLL), involving trips to MD Anderson, hard conversations with doctors, bone marrow biopsies, questions, tears, and waiting. Never. In a million years.

I wonder if YOU feel this way too. Your heart is heavy with the hard things that have riddled your year— things which you never would have guessed could happen to YOU in a million years:

tragic loss of your child.

failed pregnancy attempts and the emptiness that comes with that deep longing unfulfilled.

sudden death of your dad.

slow death of your mom, her funeral, and supporting your dad as he struggles with becoming a widow.

a fractured relationship with a family member or friend.

a break-up or divorce.

turning a year older and still unmarried.

the not-going-away feeling of loss from the death of the love of your life.

letting go of a dream.

managing yet another year of chronic pain or disease.

Ugh. Each of these hurt with such intensity, I can’t seem to catch a breath. And I seem to HOLD ON to each disappointment, unexpected diagnosis, or loss with fear, dread, and pain- as if, by holding on, I claim that I’ve hit my hurt quotient and am not a candidate to any more assaults to my heart.

So, for this little space of the blogosphere, smack-dab in the middle of the many joy-filled, hope-filled, truth-filled people who are making pretty lists and plans and goals for 2014, let’s just take a minute to sit down on the floor and sigh. Breath. Cry. Admit.

2013 has been hard.

Painful. One of those never-in-a-million years and never-want-to-live-again kind of years. Ugh.

But, sweet friend. Our light in the dark moment comes NOW. Hope blanketed in truth blasts through the sadness and fear and dread and tears, in this MOMENT.

Instead of holding on to the pain, grab HOLD of the HOPE.

The hope nestled in the truth that Jesus loves you. Jesus lives in you. Jesus walks with you every step of the days ahead. Jesus.

Let us HOLD unswervingly to the HOPE we profess, for He who promised is faithful.   Hebrews 10:23 NIV

We don’t have to remain here sitting in this space together, sad on the floor.  We have a choice to lift our heads, to put weight on our bunioned, calloused feet, and to STAND UP.

Not in our own strength.

Not in our emotions.

Not in the reality of our situation.

And not within karma.

STAND up and HOLD ON to the truth of the love found in Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

We are loved with a messy love…

a love that perseveres,

a love that is unconditional,

a love that doesn’t fade with time,

a love that never, ever, ever fails,

a love that reaches into our mess and holds strong,

a love that will stand by us and with us and for us no matter what may come.

We can STAND in this first day of 2014 not with dread or fear for what may come, but with joy, anticipation, hope, excitement that no matter what comes, we have Jesus, we are loved, and we are not alone.

As I hold onto Jesus for this day, I can honestly say “Happy New Year!”

On TUESDAY, we will pick up again in our #messylove series in Hosea.

But TOMORROW, I’ll share the one thing that charts my course for the entire year!

~ from:  amy ruth, writer / scribbles from a bean bag


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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