Help Dave Demke!

In the Fall of 2016, my great friend Dave Demke began having what seemed to be some kind of gastrointestinal distress.  Episodes of severe gas & heartburn, coupled with difficulties eating & swallowing arose sporadically, seemed to pass & he would be fine again.  Over the next couple of months his symptoms began to come with more frequency and intensity—to the point were keeping food down at all was difficult.  He began to seek medical help at the end of December 2016.  After months of doctor visits (accompanied by a smorgasbord of possible diagnoses), followed by a temporary loss of insurance, Dave was finally referred to a gastroenterologist in March of 2017.  After 6 weeks more of waiting (by which time he had lost 30 lbs. due to difficulty swallowing) he was finally diagnosed during a routine endoscopy as having an esophageal tumor.  Later tests would show that the tumor was malignant—an adenocarcinoma, and that it had spread not only to local lymph nodes but to others as well.

Dave & Caley are holding steadfast in their resolution that Dave will make it through this and come out healthy on the other side—their shared dry sense of humor intact. They both feel very fortunate that he is able to seek treatment at the world-renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center right here in NYC –only a 15 minute subway ride from their home.

Their optimism undimmed, you can nevertheless imagine what a shock this diagnosis has been for Dave and Caley.  Dave, for obvious reasons, is sidelined for a bit from his flourishing career as a freelance theatre artist. While insurance will cover a majority of the cost of care, Caley is working as hard as a body can to make up the shortfall.  And as any of us know when it comes to insurance, there WILL be a shortfall.  And so, dear friends, this is where WE come in!

Dave has been our teacher, director, coach, mentor, fellow actor, colleague and above all—our friend.  Let's reach out to Dave, return some of the support he has given all of us over the years and help him in his fight against this terrible disease.  Dave is presently undergoing a three-month round of chemotherapy - I'm sure you'll agree, it would be a lovely gift to this great couple if the goal of $15,000 could be met in that time!

And if you ask him how he’s feeling he will tell you, “Cancer is easy; swallowing is hard”.  Dry sense of humor: intact.


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Organizer and beneficiary

Doug Rees 
New York, NY
Caley Milliken 
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