As many of you know by now, our dad Billy Fokakis, was suddenly diagnosed with a very rare, very aggressive cancer this past week. As I write this, my heart is so heavy and it’s taking all of my strength to hold back the tears but we will do anything to ease dad’s mind in the slightest... financially, spiritually, mentally. That way all he has to focus on is healing and getting better.
The back story, which has only been a long, stressful 13 days:
On December 23, 2017, Billy went to the ER complaining of shortness of breath after bending down to feed his cat. He knew something was off because such a simple task shouldn’t have winded him so easily. He went to the hospital, and if you know him that is a huge feat in itself, he informed them of the growth on his neck as well as his shortness of breath. Rewind to a few weeks earlier, he had noticed this growth on his neck, so we googled assuming it was respiratory problems or a possible goiter, nothing too alarming, right? Well, after some blood work and a CAT scan of his neck, the ER doctor broke the terrible news that it was lung cancer... Cancer, what a terrible word.
After the soul crushing diagnosis of cancer, we immediately leaped into action - setting up doctors appointments, one after the other. Due to the fast acting Pulmonary deparment at Hattiesburg Clinic, they worked him in very quickly. Soon afterwards, he was referred to an amazing ENT doctor, Dr. Coltharp, to do a biopsy of the mass located on his neck. The biopsy required full anesthesia and was more invasive than usual due to the location of the incision site being so close to the jugular vein and carotid artery being misplaced because of the mass. 96 excruciating hours later, we got the biopsy results in.... SIGNET RING ADENOCARCINOMA is the official diagnosis. From the research and absolute lack of knowledge on all things cancer, we have found that it is very rare and very aggressive.
On January 4, he had to do a PET scan of his entire body to help us find where the cancer originated from and an MRI of the brain to make sure it hasn’t spread to that area as well. We received the news on January 5 that the cancer has not spread to his brain, kidney, liver, spleen, or pancreas. Hallelujah. However, we are certain it originated in his stomach, went up into his lungs, spread into his lymph nodes and neck. All of which is absolutely awful, but we’re so thankful it has not spread to any more major organs.
Our goal, and the reason for this GoFundMe, is to get him seen by a center that specializes in rare cancers. We have looked into Ochsner’s in Baton Rouge, UAB in Birmingham, ACC in Atlanta, and MD Anderson in Houston. All of which to dad’s insurance is considered “out of network”. MD Anderson would be the absolute dream due to their extensive knowledge on rare cancers such as dad’s. Without insurance coverage, just a consultation visit is $54,000. Treatment is $300,000-$400,000. As I’m sure any of you would do for a loved one, money isn’t an issue. But it is...
That is why I plead with you to please help him. He is the most generous, selfless, honorable, kind hearted, lovable teddy bear of a man who would do anything for anyone without hesitation or expectation of anything in return. If you know him, you know I am not biased because I am his daughter. You know this because it’s all so very true. I just want to ensure we can provide the very best care and doctors that he deserves. Even the smallest donation, $5, $10, $25 would make the biggest difference in the long run. Every penny will go towards his treatment. With that being said, Coney Island Cafe will be closed indefinitely until the treatment process is complete, so dad will have no source of income and will solely rely on this fundraiser for all financial needs. This is very difficult for him being that he is the third generation running our family restaurant and he has NEVER missed one day of work in 33 years, ever. We have all fallen on hard times, so I understand that sometimes a donation is not an option. I just ask that your prayers stay constant and to keep the faith that my dad will be healed in the name of Jesus.
In closing, I just wanted to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone: the doctors, nurses, and medical staff who are being so proactive and getting him seen as quickly as possible. Our family and friends who have offered their time and help, and literally anything any of us could ask for to make this easier. My dad is so grateful and feels so loved in this time of absolute despair. He is being a trooper and is staying positive and that’s all I could ask from him.
With all the love in our hearts,
The Fokakis Family