Dunlap: Thank You, Pittsburgh

By Colin Dunlap

Cancer sucks.

I already kind of knew that, but I have greater sense now.

Pittsburgh is such a magnificent place.

I already kind of knew that, but I have greater sense now.

There’s no need to draw it out or bore you with the details, I’ll just shoot it straight. Our 5-year-old daughter Darran was diagnosed with cancer last week.
She went to Children’s Hospital complaining of hip pain; they told us she has leukemia.

It isn’t ideal, but all we can do is push through the chemotherapy she’s already started, wake each day to fight the one in front of us, be positive and press on.

Photo Credit: Colin Dunlap

Photo Credit: Colin Dunlap

Then we repeat the next day until we beat this.

And we will.

I’m certain we will.

But enough of that cancer stuff, let’s talk Pittsburgh.

From the time the word started spreading that my dear daughter was afflicted with this nasty nuisance, this city —- my hometown that I love just about more than anything —- has stepped up.

The calls, texts and messages have overwhelmed. I have read every single one of them.

And I thank you for each and every word.

I thank you to the people I work with at CBS who jumped in to comfort my family.

I thank you to the listeners of The Fan Morning Show and our station as a whole — the listeners are the lifeblood of what I do for a living — who reached out in such voluminous numbers that it floored me. I thank you that you genuinely cared so much, that you felt a connection so deep that this diagnosis moved you.

I thank you to the teams in our city — all of whom have sent messages and well-wishes; whether it was a card, call, hospital visit or text, you don’t know how much that has meant to our daughter.

She has become my hero, but her heroes are sports figures. And even as she wrestles with understanding what is afflicting her, it has moved her significantly to understand that Pittsburgh people of such magnitude care about her.

But that’s why I love this place, that’s why I love Pittsburgh. It isn’t cliché or some half-factual truism, but my family has found out over the past week it is 100 percent spot-on: When Pittsburghers sense another in need, they stand up, they step up and they act. We are humbled by every single action.

We are humbled that Pitt running back James Conner — a kid who gritted and gnashed through his own cancer battle the way he does through opposing linebackers — took the time to reach out to my daughter. He gave her the jersey off his back, he gave her a signed picture imploring her to fight hard, he gave her — probably most of all — a tangible role model who isn’t just talking about it, but has lived the struggle.

I can’t tell you how much that has all meant. James Conner is a superhero on the field, but also the guy who, on Sunday morning at 3:55 a.m. after that monumental Clemson win and charter flight home, sent a message to me reminding me that he was there to help and let him know anything that he could do.

You talk about being proud of Pittsburghers, huh?

You want to talk about heroes — take a look at James Conner.

Or how about the people our show and station competes against? People such as Mark Madden, Randy Baumann, Bill Crawford and Mikey and Bob all saying something on the air down the dial and reaching out privately to me?

That’s love.

That’s Pittsburgh.

That’s what makes this town so damn special. Certainly we all compete against one another, but when there’s someone in need, there are no allegiances — we are all, plainly, Pittsburghers.

Or how about the first call I made after the doctors gave us the devastating news our daughter had cancer — news I hope no parent ever has to sit there and have delivered. I immediately contacted Dr. Stanley Marks, the Chairman of the UPMC Cancer Center and a giant in oncology who I’ve known for more than 20 years.

There is, perhaps, no Pittsburgher who seismically changes more lives on a daily basis than Dr. Marks. To call him colossal to medicine in our city would be a significant understatement.

“There’s no place better you can be right now,” Dr. Marks said.

You know, he’s right.

He’s right in so many ways.

This cancer diagnosis and the way it has blindsided our family and thrown it for a total 180 in just a week has been incredible.

But the way Pittsburgh has rallied behind us and with us has been so much stronger.

There is, truly, no place better than Pittsburgh, especially when times get a little tough. I already kind of knew that, but I have greater sense now.

Thank you, Pittsburgh.

Thank you for being you.

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