Opening The Door To My Heart

It’s been three months, two surgeries, and countless needle sticks, scopes, and exams since my cancer diagnosis. I’m headed into immunotherapy in just a few weeks. It’ll hopefully cut down the 70% chance I have for a bladder cancer recurrence.

It would be easy to say thanks for nothing to 2020 for another gift I never asked for. But on this Thanksgiving week I’m reminded of so many family and friends and even total strangers who have reached out.

After my second surgery recently, two good friends offered to deliver dinner for the family. I delayed. I stalled. I was so grateful for the offer. But I also felt (and still feel) there are so many people going through things more difficult than me. After our third round of texts over a couple of days, this friend finally texted:

“You really need to learn to accept a gift and a thank you. I know it’s hard. It’s also an acceptance that you are as deserving as those you take care of.”

We were so thankful to accept the dinner and it was brought over the next night. And truth be told, it was the first night in WEEKS that we actually sat down for a meal as a family. That gesture brought us together even for just a few minutes. I’m grateful for it.

This week was my first day back at work in a couple of weeks. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s the longest time I’ve been out of a newsroom in twenty years probably. I went to the mail room and grabbed a card in my mail slot. It was from someone at a competing station in LA who I’ve never even met. 

She wrote in part, “You don’t know me but I know of you through our mutual news business.. I want you to know I’m sending good energy your way… Our business is small so we gotta hold each other up!”

I got home that night and there was an anonymous package for me. I’ve written about my new suspenders fad I’ve started. Belts can be too painful with bladder cancer. So it was suggested I wear SUSPENDERS instead. A pair of tie-dye suspenders arrived from a mystery sender. I’ll wear them proudly as they join my new collection of Super Man suspenders, and suspenders in grey, red, and Dodgers blue. 

I love them all.

There have been messages, texts, calls, including a couple from one person who has battled cancer himself. He may not know it but he moved me to tears when he called out of the blue and said he was going to keep calling and checking in on me. Just because.

So on this Thanksgiving week I’m more than thankful. Cancer is a diabolical bastard. But it has brought so many people back into my life over the past few months. 

Today I reflected back to Nathan who I met five years ago. Nathan was living in an RV behind the Rite Aid in town. I don’t know why but we struck up a conversation one day and I bought him lunch. As he shuffled through all his disheveled papers, he gave me one of them as a thank you for lunch. It was a handwritten drawing I still have. 

I opened it up and it said, 

“open the door to your heart.”

Nathan knew something that I didn’t.  So here I am. And I’m doing just that. And I couldn’t be more grateful for the family, friends and coworkers who’ve reached out.  Love you all!

About Pete Wilgoren

Author of Dadmissions. Pete Wilgoren is an Emmy winning journalist, blogger, and author writing about parenthood, life, and other stuff
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