This is by far the most difficult letter I've ever had to write.
I am Jim Babjak, lead guitarist for the Smithereens and husband to Betty Babjak. Betty and I started dating in July of 1976, married in May of 1983 and are raising three sons. We are soul mates for life and have often talked of growing old together.
In September of 2014 Betty was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.
The tumor was found early, which qualified Betty to have a Whipple procedure performed by the wonderful Dr. Andrew Gumbs at Overlook Medical Center in New Jersey. The surgery lasted over ten hours and was successful in removing the tumor. However, this sneaky cancer had already spread to some lymph nodes, which required Betty to undergo four months of chemotherapy. Betty stayed strong in her resolve as she developed every possible side effect and was physically debilitated by the aggressive course of treatment. Thankfully, the treatment seemed to have worked and by mid-summer Betty was starting to feel better, and we were all happy to see her enjoying the season.
In September of 2015 we discovered the cancer had spread to her lungs and liver and is now considered Stage 4. Betty has been in and out of the hospital ever since. She is now receiving chemotherapy again; a powerful combination of Gemcitabine and Abraxane, which we are hoping keeps this cancer at bay as long as possible. Betty is debilitated once again.
Every time I wake up I hope I am just having a bad dream, but I soon realize that this is our new normal. My family and I are learning the true meaning of living one day at time. This period in our lives has given me a tremendous feeling of helplessness. I try to do everything I can to keep Betty alive and happy. I have used unpaid family leave days from my day job and took off November, December and most of January from playing with the band to care for my wife. Not only is our family devastated by this horrific disease, but finances are also now a concern until life gets back to normal and we get on our feet again. With most of our savings depleted during the past year, many friends and fans have suggested using gofundme.com to help with ongoing bills and to continue Betty's treatment and care. Victor Erlanger is a friend of the Smithereens and has offered to set up this fund. This is a very difficult decision for me to make. I am truly humbled.
In better days ahead, I pledge to continue your generosity and "pay it forward" by helping other people in need and raising funds for charitable organizations through my music and our concerts whenever possible.
Please feel free to private message me on Facebook or email me at email@example.com if you have any questions.
From my heart, thank you for all of your love and support,