According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that 23,820 malignant tumors of the brain or spinal cord will be diagnosed this year. In terms of overall brain tumors, that alarming number would be even higher if benign tumors were also included in that statistic.
Brain cancer especially hits home to one local establishment in Mineola, which is Biscuits and Barbeque. Recently, the restaurant held a fundraiser to help one of its employees, Juan Fernandez, whose son Jonathan was diagnosed with a serious form of brain cancer.
“I’m just grateful to so many customers who were so kind and generous who came in and spent money,” said Biscuits and Barbeque owner Joan Gallo. “Half of everything we made that day we donated to Johnathan.”
According to Gallo, a couple of hundred members of the community came out to show their support and to donate to help with the mounting medical bills that the Fernandez family has to endure.
“He’s a very nice guy,” said Gallo of Juan. “I’ve been working with him on and off for the last 21 years, so I know him very well. He’s a real family man. His son is 16 years old and he’s been battling this cancer since he was 12. It’s pretty serious right now. That’s why the need for some assistance was really great. He was in a program at Duke University, but because the cancer has grown, he’s no longer a part of that program and doesn’t meet their requirements. So he’s back at Sloan Kettering and they’re going to start treatments.”
Together, Gallo and her staff put together the fundraiser.
“[Juan] was happy and very grateful,” said Gallo. “He wasn’t just grateful to us, but he was grateful to everybody that helped him. Some customers know him and some people were complete strangers that came to help.”
According to Gallo, Johnathan is a true fighter when it comes to battling his cancer diagnosis.
“He’s such a nice and kind kid,” explained Gallo. “Juan is just a nice, kind family man who just loves his whole family, but especially Johnathan. He’s just desperate to keep him safe and healthy.”
Additionally, Gallo thanked everybody who contributed.
“I can’t even tell you how overwhelming it was to be there that day because people were so kind,” said Gallo. “It renewed my faith in humanity.”
If you would like to help and donate to the Fernandez family, visit www.gofundme.com/fernandezfund.