Unfortunately, Devin Pike has been here before. He was first diagnosed with throat cancer when he was 23. Now, at 47, he's fighting it again.
"The joke is that I now have to look forward to the recurrence every 23 years," he says over e-mail. "So there'll be a little easier planning in my sixties."
But he's not fighting it alone, and he's doing his part to make sure others don't have to, either.
Pike is a familiar face to those who frequent geeky conventions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He has been on stage at many Dallas Comic Con events (the show that eventually became Fan Expo Dallas), both as a moderator for celebrity Q&As and as a host that energetically keeps a crowd of costumed attendees entertained. And that doesn't include the stuff behind the scenes that most people never see.
So when word spread that his cancer was back, an army of friends and fans rushed to support him. The Alamo Drafthouse hosted a special charity screening of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, some proceeds from which went to the "Save Devin" fund on GoFundMe, started in an effort to help Pike pay for his sizable medical bills.
"When Bill DiGaetano and James Wallace [from the Alamo Drafthouse] approached me with the idea, I initially turned them down," Pike says. "Twice. I'm stubborn, and prideful. Charity is something I'm always quick to support, but highly reluctant to accept. They insisted, and I'm grateful they did. Additionally, we had a limited edition shirt designed by Matthew Warlick, and that image was a wonderful way to tie the whole thing together."
Pike had a condition, though: The money from the screening had to be split between the "Save Devin" fund and the Cancer Support Community North Texas. "The work they do with cancer patients and their families is crucial, and I absolutely wanted to spotlight their work and help it long as best as I could," he says.
These days Pike is the program director at Fuzz Box, the second coming of classic D-FW radio station The Edge (the old-school Edge, back when it was truly still an alternative rock station), which is where he will be hosting "Who Needs Sleep: 36 hours to fight cancer," which Pike hopes will be a new end-of-year tradition. Money raised during the event will be going to Cancer Support Community North Texas and Cook's Children's Medical Center of Fort Worth.
"The marathon is always something I have wanted to undertake, from my first days in radio," he says. "I was a guest on [Mark] Elfenbein and [Steve] Shapiro's charity marathon in the early days of The Ticket, and that only fueled my desire to do it as well. Now that I'm working with the folks at Vokal on Fuzz Box, I figured this was as good a year to do this as any, while people know I've been going through this fight and it's a little closer to mind. I pitched it to Vokal management, and they didn't hesitate to approve the plans."
The stream, which begins on Dec. 29 at 8 a.m. and will go until Dec. 30 at 8 p.m., will be both audio and video, and Pike says it will be packed with live musical and comedy performances, a Match Game revival featuring local personalities, interviews with acclaimed actors and "a live movie riff of a 'mystery' science fiction classic."
Anybody tuning in (and anybody who doesn't) can contribute to the cause by pledging money online or over the phone, bidding on auction items or by dropping by the studio (off Mockingbird and 183) in person to hand them a check. Pike says that "operators will be standing by."
As for Pike himself, on Dec. 20 he posted a health update on Facebook, following a biopsy earlier in the week: "Everyone's positivity has been wonderful. I've had so many messages wishing me well, urging me on. When my energy flagged, invariably I would get a text or DM that helped me push through it. ... the oncologist told me that my tissue sample read as low-grade, or barely malignant; and the tumor was significantly smaller than when we started treatment six months ago; and we did not need to schedule any further treatments, pending checkups and maintenance.
"I still have a long road ahead of me. ... However: this is Day One of the next phase of my life."