Tag Archives: Brian Wilson

Central Florida Top 5’s Brian Wilson featured on Humans of New York

Michael J Fox quote Caregivers

As many of our readers know our owner and contributor, Brian Wilson, moved back up north some time ago. Many never knew why. Brian chose to tell only a few select close friends about what was going on. Such reasons are not only very personal but – something to think about – having to rehash details over and over, on almost a daily basis when you already live this, is mentally and emotionally taxing. In fact, roughly half of our writers here at Central Florida Top 5 (including me) share Brian’s daily life experience as a Caregiver.

How in the world did Humans of New York find Brian? New York’s a BIG place!

According to Brian, here’s what happened;

Heading from Washington Heights to Midtown in New York, Brian was stopped by Brandon Stanton, master storyteller and creator of the inspirational blog and #1 New York Times bestselling book, Humans of New York. Even though he currently lives in New Jersey, Brian considers New York City his neighborhood as he only lives 35 miles from Midtown. Brandon spent about thirty minutes talking with Brian about his story. Brian feels that he is here to help others and is a Caregiver for his mom as she is Caregiver for his dad but what Brian doesn’t realize is, he is a Caregiver for both his parents!

“I’ve moved home to live with my parents while my dad battles esophageal cancer. I think my being home has helped my mom even more than my dad. She had stopped taking care of herself. There’s this feeling of helplessness when someone you love has cancer. Two weeks can pass between appointments, and there’s always this feeling that there’s something more you should be doing. For the past two years, Mom always put Dad first. She lost weight. She stopped doing things she cared about. So I’ve started cooking with her every night. That’s our time together. And I’m pushing her to start crafting again. And to go get her nails done every once in awhile. Last night I stayed home while she went to a Broadway show with her friends. And my dad’s happier too. He doesn’t care how Mom’s nails look, but he’s happier knowing that he’s not stopping her from doing things for herself.”

A photo posted by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

No matter where I or our writers and contributors go, we always hear one of three things, “How’s Brian?” “Has he moved back to Florida yet?” “I miss Brian so much!” That’s the kind of mark Brian leaves on people; his compassion and willingness to help, fun and playful spirit, his love of community and unending stream of ideas. You love him when you see him and miss him when he’s not around. We miss him terribly here at Top 5 but we know he’s never far. He’s where he needs to be.

Brian Wilson, The Nice Brian

Brian judging the Florida Citrus Parade

On a personal note, Brian asked me to share part of my Caregiver story as part of this post. It’s not something I would normally share in detail, out of respect for my mom’s privacy. (She HATES it when I share about her on social media!) I was, however, allowed to share ONE photo a week for every week she took chemotherapy on my Instagram page, using #Chemo Week #__. 

Its purpose, I explained to my mom, was to educate people on treatments and to make cancer a little less scary for others. Through my years of advocacy and volunteerism with local and global organizations, I’ve learned that cancer is brutal, unforgiving, and does not discriminate so why should anyone treat it with kid gloves? Battle for my mom’s life? Let’s do this, Mom. Beast Mode ON.

In honor of Brian, his parents and with my mom’s permission, it’s the least I can do. Like Brian, I love helping others and if someone gleans any sort of usefulness or solace from this, it’s a good day;

That’s my mom, Pam, and I (above) at last year’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Orlando. The proverb, “before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes,” has always been a personal mantra of mine, but has especially rung true in the last two years when my mom was diagnosed for a second time with cancer.

She was first diagnosed on July 1, 2010 with Stage I Uterine cancer. This was the day I stopped capitalizing the word ‘cancer.’ As far as I’m concerned, this disease doesn’t deserve the distinction of being a noun – or verb depending on how it’s used – nor proper capitalization. It’s my way of fighting back.

My mom was diagnosed again on July 26th, 2014 with Breast cancer, a side effect from the medication treating her for Uterine cancer. (Go figure.) And it was bad.

Well after the fact, we learned she had between Stage III and Stage IV Breast cancer. My mom throughout her treatment did not want to be ‘typed.’ She knew her cancer was advanced because she had kept an exterior tumor to herself for (at least) six months, and didn’t couldn’t bear to face that number.

The diagnosis of cancer number two itself was already overwhelming. Hearing the words, “You have cancer,” are devastating on their own, and especially to our family. We’ve lost more than half of our family to some form or complication from cancer. My mom has lost both her siblings to cancer, as well as her grandmother, aunt, sister-in-law, and countless other friends. Most recently and in the middle of her battle, my mom lost her other rock, her best friend of 30-plus years, Margie, to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). (As did Star Trek’s Dr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy.) To be the sole surviving member of her immediate family, and to get her own cancer diagnoses was soul shattering.

It’s been a rough few years for our family but good news is on the horizon. Thanks to my mom’s oncologist, whom she randomly met during a hospital stay after she was diagnosed, my mom is doing better. A couple of weeks ago my mom heard The “R” Word for the first time – REMISSION! She’s still taking chemo infusion but only once a month instead of once a week.

In the beginning of this journey, I didn’t know the difference between a PICC line and a Portacath – or what the heck either even were. I was as scared as my mom and even less informed. Thanks to a wonderful oncology team, home care nurses and Dr. Google, I educated myself.

Not a week goes by that I don’t get a private message from a friend or friend of a friend who has received a cancer diagnosis, or has become a Caregiver by proxy. There’s no manual on this stuff just as there’s no manual on understanding your loved one, sick or not. Hopefully these tips will help all Caregivers:

Jen’s Top 5 Caregiver Tips

    1) Even if you don’t like it, even if it’s what you do not want to do or what you think is best, LISTEN to your Survivor. What the patient says GOES. (It’ll be frustrating but you must always respect your loved one’s wishes.)

    2) Each day will be different as every patient is. Tomorrow is never promised – to any of us. Be ready for it, get some SLEEP. Taking care of you will help you take care of your loved one. Allow some time for yourself. It’s not wrong. [Extended family and friends: Don’t ASK if a patient or Caregiver need help, JUST DO. It will be more appreciated than you know.]

    3) Remember, even on your worst day, you are a CareGIVER, not a careTAKER. The simplest of acts; your company, a home cooked dinner, a clean bathroom, fresh laundry or just an afternoon to Netflix and Chill will always be a comfort and treasured memory. If you’re not fond of cleaning, carpet cleaning Union City can do the job for you at affordable prices. Visit thecarpetcleaningprosatlanta.com to learn more.

    4) Keep a NOTEBOOK handy during doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy infusion, hospital visits, etc. As your loved one’s direct Caregiver, you will become a defacto Junior RN and Specialist of your loved one’s condition. [Think: Dr. House with a pleasant bedside manner.] Know and understand all the fancy doctor speak and keep a list of all medications, special care instructions and known allergies handy. In an emergency, this at-hand info can save precious time. Added Bonus: Feeling (and sounding) super smart! In other related marketing news, checkout cleaning service nyc, one of the top house cleaning services provider in the city!

    5) Doctor’s prescription: Enjoy one BIG belly laugh a day. My mom’s oncologist, Dr. Kalpesh Barot of Southwest Cancer Center, actually wrote this prescription on her discharge papers after she was diagnosed. This positive attitude, above any meds, saved her LIFE.

#CFLT5Day and Launching a New Central Florida Top 5

The time is NOW. The steps have been stepped. SunRail has left the station.

After nearly a year of hard work in front of and behind the scenes, a new Central Florida Top 5 is here! What do you think? A big thank you to the team at CT Social​, for the fresh new look on desktop and mobile!

New Top 5

Fun Spot America on International Drive hosted us for a ‘huuuuge‘ launch party over the weekend with nearly all of our new team of writers, some of our readers, a few very special guests and we even met a few new fans! Our readers enjoyed 20% off of wristbands for mentioning us and using the hashtag #CFLT5Day! Thank you Fun Spot!

Special guests stopped by including our longtime friend Emily Ellyn, Central Florida’s own Retro Rad Chef and Food Network Star and David Hummer, Director of Marketing at Fun Spot America. Virtual well wishes were sent by many including our founder and Central Florida native Bess Auer, the Queen of Versailles herself Jackie Siegel and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs who surprised us with our own day – literally! Mayor Jacobs proclaimed Saturday, May 16th, 2015 “Central Florida Top 5 Day” in Orange County, noting our over six years of service to the community and longevity for years to come. Thank you so much Emily, David, Jackie and Mayor Jacobs!

So what’s new exactly? A BUNCH! Here are our Top 5 awesome new things about CentralFloridaTop5.com:

  • A beautiful new website and mobile site! How do we look? Let us know in the comments by signing into social media!

Top 5 Comments


  • Easier way to submit events to our calendar (Don’t forget the pictures!)

Top 5 Submit


  • The debut of our newsletter (Coming SOON!)
  • More opportunity for YOU to get involved! Whether you have a small business in need of a boost via paid ad space or a great event in need of eyes, we can help! Feel free to email us anytime at info[at]centralfloridatop5.com.

And last but certainly NOT least…

  • Our new team of writers spanning six (with more on the way) Central Florida counties! We attempted to broadcast a live Google Hangout on Air on Saturday, to introduce all of them to you, but sadly broke the internet. (Click the link for video of what did happen!) You will be seeing and hearing from each of them very soon…
Top 5 Team

Our new Central Florida Top 5 Team at Fun Spot: Allen, Jen V, Kari, Kate, Jay, Carolyn, Greg, Kelly, Emily, Lisa, Mark, Rich, JenLee, Bun (Not pictured: Brian, Jen L, David, Nando, Dani, Mike, Cody)

Look for more great posts, local information, reviews, interviews through +Google Glass, pretty pictures, video​ and some fun partnerships in the year ahead!

To our loyal readers, THANK YOU for bearing with us through the growing pains. We appreciate YOU!

Notice something a little different about Central Florida Top 5?

Dear Central Florida Top 5 Readers,


You may have noticed a little something when visiting the site today.

Central Florida Top 5 has changed… a lot. Aesthetically of course it looks different but there are many other big things coming in the month of May, and even more great things to come in 2015.

First things first. The website. In the Central Florida blogging world, we’ve been sharing the best of Central Florida with you since 2009. And, with being one of the oldest blogs in the area, we felt we needed a change, an update… to brighten up even more. We had little idea of how or where to go with this thought process. Enter: CT Social.

CT Social

We met the CT Team at Florida BlogCon (founded by our original owner, Bess Auer) a few years ago which sparked conversation. Last year we got serious and got the creative ball rolling. Today, we’re 15 days from our full relaunch and we couldn’t be more excited to FINALLY share this great news with you! Our friends and partners CT Social gave our website a massive overhaul, which we hope you will find even more convenient and fun to explore. From backend to front page, they rebuilt us from scratch. (Keep in mind, with our soft launch comes some tweaking. We are still under construction, so we thank you for your patience in advance.)

You may already recognize Carolyn as one of our Guest Contributors or as one of Orlando Business Journal’s 2015 Women Who Mean Business nominees. She’s also CT Social’s Communications Director and Digital Storyteller. Her business partner, Greg, is a coding and developer ninja as well as CT’s Marketing Technologist. Chief Barkologist, Hartley, definitely keeps the team motivated! Over the last year they have met with us, coached us, shared many caffeinated beverages and helped us pave the way for a new future of Central Florida Top 5.

I am also one of those big changes. You may recognize me as Top 5’s Multimedia Producer. In case we haven’t met officially, I’m Jen Vargas, Central Florida Top 5’s new Managing Editor! With me comes a team of writers located in counties all over Central Florida – 13 writers to be exact – as well as more Guest Contributors and community partnerships!

In February I replaced Top 5 Senior Editor, Ken Storey, who moved on to orangey pastures over at Orlando Tourism Report. We thank Ken for his input in the early stages of our resdesign. Rest assured, Central Florida Top 5’s owner and community catalyst, Brian Wilson, is still with us. You may not see his face around often but his heart is still here. (He’s a hard one to forget!)

What details can we share with you about our new website launch party? Not a lot yet but here are my Top 5 best hints;

  • It will be HUUUUGE.
  • We will be broadcasting LIVE via Google Hangouts On Air and YOU are invited!
  • Special Guests will stop by, in person AND online
  • You’ll get a chance to meet our new writing team
  • Exclusive local news will be announced

So, what do you think so far? Let us know in the comments or email us at info(@)centralfloridatop5.com.