Proceeds from this year’s Fishing for Frankie tournament will help pay medical costs for Janice Rome Vicknair, who was diagnosed with stage four cancer four years ago.
The fishing tournament was established by the family of the late Frankie Champagne Jr. in his memory. Champagne was a resident of Luling who passed away in 2011 following a battle with lung cancer.
Vicknair has needed to overcome obstacles in her fight. After receiving traditional chemotherapy over the past two years, she was told she can no longer do so and has needed specialized, targeted therapy at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for the past six months. Some stays are overnight. Some weeks require three or four days of treatment in a row. It has created a financial burden for Vicknair and her husband, Bobby, while the travel itself takes its own toll.
“My daddy is 75 years old,” said Bobbie Friloux, the Vicknairs’ daughter. “It’s getting harder and harder for them to travel. It’s hard on her physically and then on top of that she feels like a burden.”
Vicknair has already proved to be a survivor.
In her initial diagnosis, she was told the survival rate for her type of cancer (cholangiocarcinoma or bile duct cancer) was nine to 12 months with treatment. An aggressive chemotherapy treatment plan allowed her to continue past that estimate, while she has also received donor blood along the way.
However, a recent setback has made things worse for her.
Doctors discovered a second instance of cancer in Vicknair’s left thigh bone that required surgery to insert a rod into it followed by 21 days of radiation on her leg. For the duration of her rehabilitation from that cancer, Vicknair was not able to continue her targeted therapy, though her treatments since then have resumed.
Friloux said that surgery has necessitated Vicknair utilize a walker and wheelchair to get around. It’s added another element of difficulty to what was already a tough journey.“It’s such a regimented process,” Friloux said. “We learned over the weekend that the next eight weeks, they say, will really tell us. Unfortunately, we’re kind of running out of options beyond that.”
She also said her mother’s bravery in the face of this adversity has inspired both Friloux and others. “Her faith and determination to survive is extraordinary,” Friloux said. “She feels like she’s continuing to travel because even if the treatment doesn’t ultimately work for her, maybe it helps them on the road to finding a cure and she can be a part of that. She refuses to feel sorry for herself.”
The funds generated from Fishing for Frankie will help Vicknair continue her work in targeted therapy and lessen the impact of medical expenses not covered by insurance.
Fishing for Frankie will be held Aug. 13 at Somme’s Marina in Des Allemands. Check in begins at 4:30 a.m. and weigh in will be at noon.
Audrey Raziano, the sister of Frankie Champagne, said the family learned of Vicknair’s plight through her son-in-law, Friloux’s husband, Ritchie, who participates in the tournament every year.
“The poor soul can’t catch a break,” Raziano said. “He let us know she was in need of help … every person we’ve done this for has really needed the help. We just feel blessed to have the ability to do it for them and in my brother’s memory.”
Friloux said her family is “overwhelmed” by the Champagnes’ gesture.
“That family is awesome,” Friloux said. “My mother is very humble, but proud. It took a lot for her to even want to do this, but she truly needs the help. Their generosity and outpouring of support makes everything a little more bearable.”
There will also be a Fishing for Frankie raffle held on Sept. 26 at Cajun Fishing Adventures in Buras. Tickets are $5 each or six for $20. Proceeds from the raffle will benefit Vicknair.
Those seeking more information on Fishing for Frankie can visit firstname.lastname@example.org or call Audrey Champagne Raziano (985) 703-0135 or April Champagne Sellers (504) 756-7020.