For the last year, local emcee and broadcaster Devin Pike has been battling throat cancer. This is Pike's second time fighting a cancer diagnosis.
Scratch that. This is Pike's second time beating a cancer diagnosis.
Two weeks ago, Pike received the good news from his doctors that the tumor in his throat, which Pike nicknamed "Bruce" (what the crew of Steven Spielberg's Jaws gave to the malfunctioning mechanical shark used on the set), has greatly reduced in size to smaller than the Stage I cancer threshold.
"I feel amazing," Pike says. "Even a week later, I'm still registering this. It's not like all of a sudden I'm not dealing with it anymore because it's not something that completely goes away, but at the same time, I feel like I can breathe a little bit, and it's not looming on me every single second of every single day."
Pike, a favorite emcee at the Alamo Drafthouse theaters and several local conferences, such as the Fan Days Expo in April, also works as the program director for the online radio station Fuzz Box. He received his first cancer diagnosis in 1994 at age 23 and went into remission after a long, difficult round of chemotherapy treatments. Doctors diagnosed him again last spring after he started feeling some of the same symptoms.
"When I finally told people what was going on — you never want to use social media as a judge of self-worth, and it's kind of stupid — but there were so many people who asked about keeping them posted," Pike says. "So I told my inner circle, and the next day, I did the public post, and more people have reacted to that than when I originally told people I had cancer
"It's kind of indicative with the way people deal with illness. They want to be supportive, but they don't want to add the burden of being negative towards it. They'd rather celebrate than mourn."
The Alamo Drafthouse hosted a fundraiser screening of director John Hughes's Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which inspired "Save Devin" as the rallying cry for Pike's entourage. It comes from the scene in the film when Ferris' fake illness that allows him to play hooky from high school prompts his hometown to paint the phrase "Save Ferris" on its water tower.
The screening also included a surprise message of hope from actor Alan Ruck, who played Ferris' frantic best friend, Cameron, in the film. A charity auction sold a model of the Delorean used in the Back to the Future films autographed by just about every member of the movie's cast, an epic day of fandom at a Texas Rangers game and a backyard barbecue prepped by a champion grill master.
The news about Pike's condition also inspired him to launch a new project to raise money for the cause. He designed and produced Who Needs Sleep?, a 36-hour online broadcast marathon with live musical performances by Orchid's Bloom and Philip Nelson, interviews with local broadcasters such as Ralph Strangis and Roger Emerich, live comedy, game shows and heated discussions about all things geek. The marathon aired between Christmas and New Year's Eve and raised an additional $13,000 for Cancer Support Community North Texas and Cook Children's Medical Center of Fort Worth.
Pike also planned a respite for himself, and it came at the most beautiful time. He scheduled a trip on the Gallifrey One cruise, a vacation designed for Doctor Who fans. The trip started the same week that Pike got the news about his cancer going into remission.
"It was a trip I was going to take even if I was in treatment, but coming right on the heels of getting the news, it was that much sweeter of a trip," Pike says. "People were coming up to me at the show. ... They would say, 'Hey, I heard you're doing better. Congratulations!' and people I had encountered at cons here had heard what I was fighting, and they were all incredibly kind."
During the trip, Pike couldn't resist stepping up to the mic when one of the floating con's many events needed a snazzy, dry-witted host to keep the game moving and the crowd entertained. So he took the mic for a sci-fi-themed episode of the Peter Marshall classic Hollywood Squares.
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"It's a comfort for me," he says. "It's the reason I did the telethon. ... It's a return to normalcy."
Pike also met Steven Moffat, longtime showrunner and executive producer of Doctor Who and Sherlock.
"It's nice to, in some weird way, have this week have been bookended for that piece of it because between everything that's gone in the last 15 months, it almost feels like a license to move forward," Pike says. "I don't plan on squandering it."