He’s Got a Big Heart

This is what a heart looks like. - A Scientist

Usually when you hear someone say that, it means that the person they are describing is very passionate about something, and is very persistent. You’ll often hear of a sports team, or an MMA fighter as being someone with a big heart, meaning they won’t quit. No matter what.

Or you might be thinking of someone very nice and caring, full of love, as someone with a big heart.

Both are right. I always considered my younger brother as someone with a big heart. He has always been so nice and kind to everyone he meets, people fall in love with him instantly. In recent years I even got to play organized sports with him, and was amazed by him.

Although he was never the most gifted athlete on the court, no one worked harder than him. There were entire matches where the rest of the team could have sat still while playing dodgeball, and Harry would have done fine alone against the other team. (Check out this video of me and him kick ass, and him getting an amazing final kill)

Everyone agrees that he’s got a big heart. Unfortunately, so does his doctor. This is where the story starts to suck. A few months ago, Harry decided to just go for a physical (he hadn’t been tot he doctor in years) and realized very quickly something was wrong. The doctor told him there was something wrong with his heart. WTF.

He went and had all the tests the doctors ordered him to do. He went in to see the cardiologist, and was told he was going to need open heart surgery. He was all alone. Open heart surgery? He’s a healthy, active 26 year old. The doctor told him he was going to have a Heart Valve Replacement surgery. Basically, due to shitty genes, and a bad roll of the dice, my brother got a shit heart (sorry dude). If you are interested in knowing what’s wrong with it, you can click on the highlighted text.

If you are this nurse, thank you so much for being so great at your job. Also, my brother Harry has a crush on you.

He’s got a big heart. Literally. His condition has cause his heart to enlarge, a lot. The cardiologist and surgeon bother said that had he continued to play sports (which he does, a lot) or even work a job that involves manual labour (yep), he may have easily died of a heart attack within a year. Long exhale.

His surgery is next week, and I am nervous. I know he’s going to be fine. The surgeon is great, and Harry is in great shape, and recover in no time. I’m so glad he decided to go in for that random check up. I would have killed him if he ever tried having a heart attack. He doesn’t know this, but as kids, we made pact to grow into old, short portuguese men. You can’t go back on that pact.

This has been a very different blog post for me. This one made me cry. I said when i started writing this blog, that I wanted to be very real. I want to capture and archive my journey, and how I felt throughout it. So, I hope you appreciated it. Also, maybe this might help someone become a little more self-aware of their health. For over ten years I never went to a doctor. I thought I always felt fine. That could have easily been my bad roll of the dice. But it wasn’t.

This is going to sound cheesy, but there is a great scene (Me and my brother love this scene) in Rocky Balboa, were Rocky’s brother in-law is trying to figure out why Rocky would want to fight again? Here is the excerpt from the script.


What? You ain’t “peaked” yet?


I dunno- There’s stuff in the basement.




(touches his heart)

In here, there’s stuff that’s gotta get out.


What stuff?


Just stuff.


My basement’s empty.


Maybe ya lucky.

My brother is a typical old portuguese man, he’s taking time off work so he can renovate his basement.

Thank you for reading.



  1. Be tough, dudes. My great grandmother had an enlarged heart and she finally ducked out at age ninety frickin three. What kept her going was something to live for…her family.

    So dont let it get you down! Take care of each other and you will be just fine.

    -Tal aka papaseco joao cabral de fonseca

  2. Hi Helder. Paula just told me the news about Harry. I just can’t believe it. My own heart sank when I heard his situation. I am so sorry, but at the same time as you know, we have the greatest medical teams right here in Ontario, so Harry is in great hands. I just read your blog as well, and I totally appreciate your being open and real about your journey , especially with regards to your emotions and your brother. I know it has certainly helped me just to vent, throughout Christian’s journey, and I know it will help you. You have a lot of people behind you, Harry and your family. We will all be praying for Harry. Please let me know if there is anything we can do on our end. I know everyone will be offering themselves up, but don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help if you need it, no matter how small. That’s what we are here for, not just the good times. Please let Harry know that we are thinking of him and praying for him and that I am sure he be back on his feet in no time. Please when you have a minute, I would like to get Harry’s hospital info as we would like to visit and/or call. Also when is the surgery?
    Take care Helder, we love you all and God Bless.
    Padrinho Nelson

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