Steamboat Springs When J.J. Pike's City Market co-workers discovered her son had been diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma, they wanted to do something to help.
The employees hosted a fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the grocery store in Steamboat Springs to assist with Cory Pike's hospital bills.
"Anything we can do to help her," Assistant Manager Erik Boehm said about the event and J.J. "It's the right thing to do. It's nice living in a small town where everybody knows everybody. It just sort of brings out the best in people."
Boehm added that J.J. and her co-workers at City Market, where she's worked in Craig and Steamboat for 13 years, are a family. Cory was like their son, too, he said.
A 2007 graduate of Moffat County High School - where he played football and threw the shot put for the school's track and field team - Cory was diagnosed June 9 with cancer of the lymphatic system.
Cory was home for the summer from Colorado State University, where he's majoring in construction management, when he got a cough. After it persisted, Cory went to the doctor, who prescribed antibiotics for bronchitis.
After a week, Cory's jaw started to hurt and his lip became numb. He was prescribed painkillers, but things got worse. In the next couple of days, Cory was constantly tired, started bruising, couldn't eat and experienced night sweats.
"It got so bad so fast," J.J. said Sunday, when reached in Denver.
J.J. said her husband, Dave, the city of Craig's parks and recreation director, took Cory in for a full workup, and he was diagnosed with Burkitt's. The next day, Cory's symptoms were twice as bad, J.J. said, so they loaded up the car and headed for Fort Collins, where he would be admitted to the cancer center at Poudre Valley Hospital.
J.J. said Cory underwent chemotherapy treatments. His weight dropped from 230 to 170 pounds, she said. Meanwhile, doctors were looking for a bone marrow stem cell donor. J.J. said her son's DNA precluded him from getting a bone marrow transplant because doctors couldn't find a match nationally or overseas.
Cory was transferred to a hospital in Denver about two weeks ago and went through seven days of chemo - what J.J. called "super chemo" - with four of those days including double radiation therapy. He was infused with umbilical cord stem cells at the conclusion of the treatment last week, she said. J.J. said they would know in the next couple of weeks whether his body accepted them.
J.J. said if everything works out, Cory may get to come home for Christmas but added that they would continue living near Denver for the next six months so he can get regular checkups.
"Cory was never sick a day in his life," she said. "He'd never even had his blood drawn until June. It's just one of those weird things."
J.J. said she was speechless - something she's not accustomed to - when her coworkers told her they were going to hold a fundraiser to raise money for Cory's hospital bills.
On Saturday, Steamboat City Market employees sold raffle tickets for a number of items donated by local businesses. They sold awareness ribbons, baked goods and offered hot dogs, chips and sodas for lunch. They also collected donations with all proceeds going to the Pikes.
"It's really tough, and they need all the help they can get. This is pretty devastating," said Connie Henry, who's worked with J.J. at City Market for the past three years. "I have a 20-year-old myself, and we needed to do something to help them out."
J.J. and Cory couldn't make it from Denver to the fundraiser, but she said they got plenty of updates from her coworkers. She said they sent her and Cory text messages and pictures from the event, which raised more than $2,700.
"I've never been a person who's relied on anyone for anything," she said. "You can't imagine people would want to do this for you and your son. They came in on their days off to organize this and do this. It's amazing.
"I am just so indebted to them," J.J. added. "Thank you just isn't enough. I must have said thank you 200 times yesterday. It wasn't enough."
- To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org