(1/2) This is Pedro Concepcion. Pedro was instrumental in starting the Burger Stand in Topeka, he was the owner of Boca Cafe and NOTO Burrito and he has a deep love for Topeka. He’s currently a leadership member of Forge, is helping his girlfriend start her own hair salon and is a restaurant consultant to many local establishments. On top of all that, he’s also going to manage the kitchen at the upcoming new restaurant, called Pennants. This is part one of our conversation, ‘like’ the page to be notified about part two, later tonight.
“In 2013 I got diagnosed with cancer and they gave me three months to live. I went to a really dark place. I tried shooting myself, but it didn’t work out. I was just mad at the world. I was really young and it felt like I had worked my ass off for nothing. I had a girlfriend of five years and I lost her too. And I blame myself because I worked so much. I neglected her and I never called my family in Chicago because I was always working. I wanted money and to do so many things and it killed me. Now I feel like I have a second chance. Now I’m trying to take things easier and just appreciate family, friends, going out, having a day off or even honestly just breathing. I’m happy where I am right now.
My friends and my family gave me the strength to fight. But when I got diagnosed I hadn’t even told my family. They read the news online and my youngest brother Javier drove down from Chicago and knocked on my door and told me, ‘Get ready, all your family is downstairs.’ And it’s scary because the day before is when I had tried shooting myself. And when they came in the house the next day I then thought ‘Damn, it would have been horrible for my mom to see me lying here on the floor.’ I needed to shake it off. They saw the gun and they took it away. I hung in there and then I said, ‘Well, if I’m going to die, at least I want to see the world.’ So I sold everything. With the money from the sale of Boca Cafe I grabbed a backpack and tried everything that could help me. I had a bug diet for like a month, then I ate frogs, then I went to Spain and got protein treatments and took alkaline treatments in Puerto Rico and then I came back six months later and the doctors told me that the tumor was shrinking. I then had two rounds of chemo.
When I came back from my trip and wanted to work, some people thought I was crazy. But I could either go home and cry and be negative and complain about the world and how I lost everything, or I could move forward and forgive others for whatever they may have done and forgive God. I was mad at God at then for what had happened to me, but sometimes you just have to move forward and let shit go.”