Friday, September 17, 2010


DETROIT, MICHIGAN - So I meet this guy on twitter, thanks to my friend Suzy Gatton. He’s had cancer, she said, and has written this amazing book about his 5-time survivorship! Well, who wouldn’t want to say a virtual hello after that kind of an intro? So off I twitter, track him down and say hello. Within 2 posts (No exaggeration. The first one was all nice and "gosh, really looking forward to getting to know you…blah blah blah."), the second post said “wait, what? Are you a Blackhawks fan? Girl, no WAY," says Don. "No Way." With big smiley faces. Oh maaaannnn, I say, and scramble to see where he lives. Detroit. Naturally.

Thus began a series of delightful banter in direct messages back and forth. The hockey season was fun and heated, and interspersed with my concern for his well being. He would talk smack about my Blackhawks while he was getting chemo, thereby rendering me helpless to retaliate. Let me know when you feel better, you dork, I would say. So I can tell you exactly what I think about the Redwings, and how you stole Chelios.

Then the season ended, and he sent me sweet well wishes, and asked if I cried when they won. You know it, brother! I told him. Then the direct messages began to be less frequent. And now they have stopped. For good. I wanted to share with you his last sentiment, because I think it is so important. You need to know that for the most part, the cancer survivors I know don’t care what color you are. If you are a man or a woman. Who you voted for or how often you vote. What kind of car you drive, or what you like on your pizza. They don’t even care what sports team you like, but will have a great time teasing you about the teams anyway. Here is what is crucial, and I will let Don tell you himself. RIP, my friend. It was an honor to know you, even if only virtually. I hope the Redwings win one for you, buddy. But just one. :)

“I’ve filled my original goal here on earth. It was to spend the remainder of my life helping cancer patients. It seems to be where I found the greatest joy and the most sense of worth. I’m moving up into the next roll. I’ll leave my faithful followers to slip in and fill the gaps. Love to you all and positive energy." -Don Wilhelm

1 comment:

Suzy said...

Just beautiful. What a lovely tribute.