The fact Tino Gonzalez wants to sit down with strangers and share what he’s learned about his battle with cancer speaks volumes about his strength of character.
People have always naturally gravitated to Gonzalez, who is always generous with a smile, a warm hug and an encouraging word. Well known in Galveston for his many roles at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston College, the Galveston Independent School District and Sea Star Base Galveston, Gonzalez has always looked for ways to help others.
Which is why, when faced with what many would consider the darkest of days, he is instead turning the challenge into an opportunity to help others.
Last year, Gonzalez was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor, the same type of cancer that took the life of Sen. John McCain.
After two surgeries, Gonzalez is currently under scheduled chemo treatments. His world, like anyone who faces a life-threatening episode, is forever changed.
But in an effort to turn the tables on his cancer, Gonzalez is opening himself up to others to talk about the journey. People, Gonzalez knows, have questions.
Because Gonzalez has so many friends in his hometown who want to know how he’s doing, his brother Tony, proprietor of Smooth Tony’s, 415 Ninth St., has organized an “open table” at 5 p.m. Thursday. At the event, Tino Gonzalez will talk about his brain tumor, his treatment, life with cancer and how he’s doing, Tony Gonzalez said.
With an upfront approach, Gonzalez hopes to help others talk about the disease and how to better communicate with someone undergoing chemotherapy. People are naturally uncomfortable speaking about such things and Gonzalez knows it. By opening himself to others to ask questions, his goal is to both broaden the knowledge base of the disease and help people learn to talk about it.
And with his open table event today, Gonzalez hopes to use his journey to — as he always does — help others.
• Leonard Woolsey