Living on the Edge of Light

Living on the Edge of Light

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 speak 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, Cyprus, Israel, and India.

Dennis and his wife, Tish, live in Indiana.  They have three grown sons – Nathan, Ben, and Aaron, two daughters-in-law – Coppelia and Dorothy,  four granddaughters, Sophia and Isabel, and twins, Gemma and Molly, as well as an English setter, Raleigh.   Hobbies are writing, gardening, boating, reading, woodworking, surfing the internet, and going to garage sales and auctions.

Dennis does writing, speaking and consulting on healthcare issues, pharmaceutical programs, survivorship and advocacy, as well as, nursing education.  He currently works on the Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic at Indiana University Hospital in Indianapolis.

In 2002 Dennis’ on-line book, Diary of an Illness, was published by the Oncology Nursing Society on their website.  It remained a popular feature there until 2009.  In February 2010 Dennis republished the journal as a free e-book on its own site.  The book has been used by cancer patients as well as in medical and nursing courses.  Diary of an Illness – A Cancer Nurse Battles a Rare Leukemia

I have profiles on Linked-In, Facebook, My Space, Nursing Link and Technocrati

D.P.Healthcare Consulting.   (

Tipperary, Ireland

Tipperary, Ireland



Dennis — 32 Comments

  1. Hello Dennis and thanks for finding my blog and adding me to your blogroll. I didn’t start blogging until after I had completed my breast cancer treatment…it was too tough for me at the time. I am a healthcare professional as well…and LCSW with 25+ years in the field. I’m glad you found me. This is an awesome community….

  2. Hi Dennis,
    Thanks for stopping by Steven’s site and adding a link. I finally had some quiet time this evening to stop by and read your story. You’re truly inspirational. Best of health…and keep in touch!

  3. I thought you might like to hear from Australia. I originally found your blog 12 months ago when my husband (medical practitioner)was first diagnosed with T-PPL. Like everyone else we were stunned by the rarity of this condition. So finding your story, especially as a medical person, encouraging.

    My husband presented with a giant urticaria as the sole symptom; upon investigation WCC 29,000. He had 4 cycles of chemotherapy, followed by Campath x 3 injections per week. After about 5-6 weeks he became very ill with cyto-meglo virus (CMV)& stopped Campath until he improved. He recommenced Campath x 3 injections per fortnight, then ceased again after a low WCC. He expects to recommence 6 further injections in a few weeks. Incredibly he has managed to work through all of this with two days off at the last chemo cycle.

    Each bone marrow biopsy so far has been very promising. We await the next biopsy with bated breath. He does have a compatible sibling for bone marrow transplant fortunately.

    We both find it so unbelievably frustrating at this stage. We’ve put our faith in good diet, mediatation, lots of supportive friends, watching lots of comedy DVDs,and remaining as positive as we possibly can. As far as we’re concerned he is “living with leukaemia”, rather than being sick with cancer.

    I will make regular updates as I think every bit of information is so important for this rare condition.

  4. hi Dennis,
    thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment! it’s encouraging to know people are reading my writings.
    wow, I so did not know this site existed. thanks for the link. I will be spending quite some time looking through here.

  5. Hi Dennis,
    Thanx for linking to from your website. I appreciate your efforts in helping others cope with cancer.
    My disease, which I’m told I do not have anymore, was called Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). I’m sure you are familiar with it. If you have to get a blood cancer, MDS is one to get cuz it gives you more time before the end. Luckily for me the MUD stem cell transplant worked like a charm!
    Best Regards,
    Jim Anderson

  6. Hello Dennis,

    Thank you for visiting my blog. I’m glad to hear you are currently in remission – stay well.

    I was diagnosed with a rare form of primary bone Cancer in my tibia (Chondrosarcoma) in 1995 – and after surgical removal of the tumour the same year, then surgery to strengthen the tibia in 2001 – I have enjoyed good health (with minor adjustments to compensate for a damaged bone).

    I am currently awaiting surgery for a potential re-currence though. Who could have believed it 14 years later? Although I have been assured that the chances of recurrence are low that cannot rule the possibility out. A large hole has shown up on scans that appears to be formed around the original tumour site; it may be caused by the bone cement they used to strengthen the bone. The scan was taken after I reported increasing excrutiaitng pain over a six month period – pain that means I know take constant pain killers, limp badly, and walk with a stick.

    I shall look forward to reading your blog and finding out about your community. Did you notice the “I survived Cancer” ribbon on my blog? I wonder if you or your readers would consider posting a ribbon on their site if they are a survivor? Or an “I know someone who survived Cancer” ribbon if they are a relative or friend of a Cancer survivor? The reason I ask is that most people know of someone who has died of cancer, maybe more than one person – so I like to spread the word that people can survive Cancer. I hope that this might help people who are newly diagnosed to believe they can survive, and not feel so afraid.


  7. Greetings, Dennis, and best wishes from London.

    Congratulations on your cancer story. It’s a tough fight to go through, and it’s inspiring to hear of your amazing progress.

    That’s a wonderful picture of the classic Dennis fire engine, too. The Dennis factory is located right here in Guildford, England, and they still make fire engines, buses, dustcarts and airport vehicles today.

  8. Anyone wanting a copy of the “I survived cancer” ribbon for their blog, should feel free to follow the link to my blog and then “right click” and save the ribbon (it’s in the sidebar). Then they can download the ribbon onto their own blog in the normal way.


  9. Hi Dennis,
    I was fascinated to discover your blog this week, because I had been invited to visit the lab where the antibody treatments were first investigated in the seventies. They are still doing pioneering work, only some of which I understood at the presentation (not surprisingly). This lab is entirely funded by UK cancer charities, including Tenovus who built the lab originally.
    Anyway, it was great to read your story about what a difference these antibody treatments can make, and made the lab visit all the more inspiring.
    Good luck for the future,

  10. Dear Dennis,
    Wow! Your story is immensely inspiring. You truly are a survivor! Thank you for sharing your experience with us and for creating this great resource for the cancer community. I will be visiting regularly.

  11. I LOVE the fact that you had this miracle remission!! Long may it continue. It’s encouraging for everyone else who has to deal with cancer, in whatever form it takes. Thank you.

    I haven’t had time to fully read everything you have here, but it looks good to me, so I’ll be back.

    Thanks for adding my blog – the more people who see it, the better chance I have of helping even one woman to be diagnosed before it’s too late. And that would be great! :o)

    Good luck with everything

  12. Hi Dennis
    Thanks for the comment on my blog and for including my blog on your site. ( I will add your blog to mine.)
    Your story is inspiring and your blog is informative and extensive. As a cancer survivor people with many different diagnosis will chat with me. Now I have another place online to send them to find information.

  13. Hi Dennis,
    Thanks for finding my blog and adding it to your blogroll. We are never truly alone, are we? Congratulations on your remission. I want to be just like you someday! I am excited to explore more on your site. I am very excited about your book club as I am an avid reader. I am going to go out and get the “Finding the Light” book as soon as I can. Sending my positive energy your way….

  14. It’s always a surprise when someone finds and likes my blog (I happens, but it still surprises me). When I first started writing about Erin’s cancer seven years ago, I figured my mother was the only one who read, and she lived next door and knew most of what I was writing first hand. Now I have friends all over the world.

    Thanks for visiting Erin’s website. I hope you live like a verb!

  15. dennis;
    Thank you for vivisting my blog . I added you to my fav’s
    It seems that we have a similar disease. I was diagnosed almost a year ago with LLC. I have not had treatment yet! Sometimes I feel like I’m waiting for the next shoe to drop. Most days I’m OK and am glad not to be in treatment.
    Congratulations on your ggreat news about being in remission for over 5 years.
    You are inspiring me !
    Thanks again!

  16. I’m a big believer in mind healing powers. A lot of illnesses can be traced back to your thoughts. Thus, you can heal yourself by thinking positively. You are truly inspirational.

  17. I am an oncology nurse and breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in 1992 and elected to have a mastectomy and full course of chemotherapy. Out of that experience I created a business to help women experiencing cancer and undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment. I would love to be able to add your link to our blog and to have you list our Web site and Blog in your Web site.
    We see many women immediately after they have been diagnosed and help them understand there is are wonderful resources for them to meet their new norm.

  18. What a wonderful idea! I need you people. I’m a caretaker for (wife of) someone with the blood plasma cancer, Multiple Myeloma. A second marriage for me, we’ve only been married two years. He’s older than I am and very sick now. I feel alone and confused about what to do — but less alone now.

  19. Inspiring and fascinating in equal measure. I used to be in the world of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies for cancer detection and treatment. Let us know when you are next in the UK.

  20. Your story has given me hope. I was diagnosed with T-Cell PLL in April, 2011 and currently getting treatments of Campath. They are preparing me for a Stem Cell Transplant with my sister being the donor.
    I’m praying that all goes well. My main oncologists are at The James Medical Center in Columbus, OH but currently getting treatments at the Oncology Center at Lutheran Hospital, Ft. Wayne, IN

    (772) 879 9522 Home
    (772 626 2304 Cell

  22. Hi Dennis;

    Thank you for providing the services of this site. Those of us transformed by the cancer experience appreciate the opportunity to interact with each other. This effort effort on your behalf captures the essence of nursing, which is compassion.

    Again, thank you.

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