Pamela Long lives in the Juniper Road/Caccamo Lane and Trail neighborhood.
She is very, very grateful for that. She writes:
A year ago, I was diagnosed with cancer for the second time — a pretty big blow when you’re 48, and had made it 7 years cancer-free.
The next 8 months were dismal: a month-long stint of daily radiation, a stretch in the hospital for a nearly burst appendix (thanks, radiation!), and 2 cycles of chemo (9 sessions).
My neighborhood — including many folks I hardly knew — rallied around me in a way that I never would have imagined.
When you have cancer, it’s very easy to go to the darkest places. What you don’t expect is that there will be good that comes out of it too — people you never thought would come to your aid, be your champions and embrace this struggle with you. I was surrounded by these angels.
One neighbor juiced me “health shots” every single day. When she was traveling, her son brought them.
Flowers were delivered regularly; so were sweet and thoughtful gifts, baked goods, encouraging notes.
Every day multiple people texted me to check in, see if I needed anything, make me laugh, and make me cry sometimes with their thoughtfulness.
They embraced my husband and my children as if they were their own. There were invitations for coffee, breakfast, lunch, offers to drive me to appointments. People took and picked up my kid for activities many exits up the Merritt. There was free babysitting, on a moment’s notice.
When I ventured out of the house there was always an encouraging word: ”You look great!” (I didn’t. I was pale, bald, frail and depressed.)
I will also never forget is the meal train. For 6 months straight, hot meals were delivered 4 nights a week.
And not just normal meals. They came with dinner games to play, ice cream sundaes to make, cupcakes to decorate, costumes to don.
Neighbors always ensured it was healthy food, with cancer fighting ingredients for me — but also meals that my 11-year-old and 2-year-old had options they would eat.
You don’t realize how daunting making a meal is when your body is going through this. It’s pure exhaustion, on a visceral level. The meals were so much more than food for us. You could feel the love and thought that went into each one. They made me cry on more than one occasion. They fed our bodies and souls.
People often talk about this part of town being great because of the connecting streets and proximity to town. But it’s the people who live here that make it special.
And while there are certainly other Westporters to thank (Waldmans, Sarin, the teachers at Saugatuck El in particular), the love and support of our neighbors kept us going during the toughest time of our lives.
They are our heroes.