Pete’s Journey: How the Cubs inspired Pete Psaradellis through his fight with cancer
Life has a way of imitating sports. The Cubs’ 108-year journey to winning the World Series in 2016 had some trials and tribulations. However, the end product was so sweet for Cubs fans across the world.
Right now, Pete Psaradellis is on a similar journey.
In late June of 2020, the 26-year-old Arlington Heights native started experiencing massive migraines that caused vomiting, severe pain and even impaired speech.
“I tried to sleep everything off, but I couldn’t sleep anything off. I started not being able to talk right,” Pete said.
But the Cubs were there from the beginning.
“The day the Cubs played their first game of the season, I was supposed to go to the doctor’s office. They didn’t take me in [right away] because I was watching the game on my phone,” Pete said.
“When we used to work public works during the summer breaks at college, Pete would either be watching a video game on his phone or the Cubs game,” Joe Barca, a friend of Pete since high school, said. “Good luck trying to talk to him during that time because you wouldn’t get an answer. You’d have to ask him two or three times.”
After several tests, scans and biopsies, Psaradellis was diagnosed with a specific form of brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG. Only around 300 people a year are diagnosed with this form of cancer in the United States with most patients being young children.
Psaradellis had as much of the tumor removed as possible and started to get treatment through chemotherapy and radiation in October. His friends approached him about setting up a GoFundMe to help cover medical costs.
“They’re like, ‘We want to do this for you.’ I’m like, ‘No, dude. Don’t worry about it. We’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it. I have no expenses right now. I’m living at home. I have money saved up.’”
Barca, Trevor Hackett and the rest of Psaradellis’ friends set up the GoFundMe regardless, with a starting goal of $50,000. Within just a week, they surpassed that goal. Currently, they have raised over $80,00 for the Psaradellis family.
“It’s just awesome to see people supporting the Psaradellis family and truly helping out in any way possible,” Hackett said.
Some even created hoodies with Greek on the front, reading “Remain Strong Pete,” with all proceeds going to help cover medical expenses.
“Just like Pete is loyal to the Cubs and his fandom, he’s loyal to all of his friends and his family,” Barca said. “I think that’s the one thing I’ve learned from knowing Pete since high school. Whenever we were in a bind or needed something, Pete was always there with at least an idea.”
Humbled by his friends and their generosity — along with donations from complete strangers — Psaradellis is already thinking of a way to show his appreciation.
“I can’t wait until COVID is over, and I can take them out to wherever. They’ve done so much for me. It’s honestly ridiculous,” Psaradellis said.
Through all of this, Pete is in high spirits and isn’t letting this news bring him down.
“I know what I got to do to live my best life, seeing as I don’t have as much as other people,” Pete said. “I’m not going to fill that with doubt and sorrow and all the bad negative energy that honestly probably isn’t good for me right? Having an outlook like this definitely boosts the spirits.”
“He’s always kind of spinning things into the positive. He’s like, ‘This is bad, but I’m entering clinical trials now and eligible for them due to the cancer essentially being unaffected or growing,’ Hackett said.
And Pete thanks the Cubs for teaching him that.
“Maybe the reason I have that stoic, realistic outlook on life is because the Cubs kind of showed me that. I legitimately struggled through however many of those losing years. I watched almost every game all the way through, whether it was in the background or in the foreground. It’s that journey, right? To eventually feel that happiness that comes from winning the World Series finally with your friends. Going through that has given me the patience … Good things will come if you keep working right? You just can’t give up.”
Currently, Pete and his family are awaiting information regarding the entrance into clinical trials to treat his brain cancer.