Craig “Shorty” Brignac couldn’t stop using the word “unbelievable” to describe what Perry’s Posse has done for him – both times he was diagnosed with cancer.
“They are awesome,” said the Norco resident. “They helped me out when I came down with cancer in 2013, had it twice, and then had a heart attack.”
Throughout the ordeal, the group has been there for him and his family.
“They came out of the blue to help,” Brignac said. “I just got a phone call one day and I guess they heard through the River Parishes about Shorty being sick.”
Perry’s Posse, a nonprofit organization based in Garyville, was formed in memory of Perry Lawrence Levet of the same area who died from leukemia in January of 2014.
Brignac said they’ve helped him pay bills, medical expenses and periodically a surprise gas card or tickets to see a play in New Orleans show up in the mail for them, which his wife said helped her cope with their situation.
Describing his life as a rough road, Brignac said they are enormously appreciative of the help, as well as “an unbelievable amount of prayer.”
In 2013, after a month-long hospital stay, Brignac was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
“They kept doing test after test to determine what kind of cancer I had,” he said. “It was fast moving and fast growing.”
Brignac underwent chemotherapy, lost 65 pounds and his hair.Little did he know his life would continue to pose a litany of heart wrenching challenges, but he credited his wife and Perry’s Posse friends with helping him keep his will to live.
By February of 2015 on his daughter’s birthday, just when it appeared he was recovering, his already hard life became harder.
Brignac received the stunning news that he was diagnosed with esophagus cancer. This time, he had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation, as well as surgery on his esophagus and stomach. He’s preparing for his sixth surgery on his esophagus to resolve difficulties with eating.
By January of 2016, he suffered still another blow from a heart attack.
Throughout this time, Perry’s Posse continued to help, as well as his wife who said she has pushed him along, as well.
“What they do for people is huge in my heart,” he said.Perry’s Posse helps cancer patients throughout the River Parishes by raising money and offering assistance.
Posse member Joan LeBouef, a former Paradis postmaster who retired in Garyville, said the organization has helped more than 100 people in the area. LeBouef is herself a cancer survivor. She knew Perry Levet, who was a graduate of St. Charles Catholic High School in LaPlace, who the group is named for.
“Perry was a young, friendly and very talented man who performed in many local bands and venues,” LeBouef said.His aunt, Tanya Roccaforte, also of Garyville, and some of her close friends formed the group in his memory in March of 2014.
“Through the two short years we have helped over 100 patients having many go into remission but sadly have lost many also,” LeBouef said. “We currently are assisting 44 patients that are actively in cancer treatment, but continue to receive names on a daily basis.”
Brignac and Kenny Bourg, also of Norco, are among residents the group has assisted in St. Charles Parish.
Brignac knows several of the organization’s founders and knew Livet because they played music together. Brignac played the bass guitar until his health issues.
“It was an honor to play music with Perry onstage,” he said.Brignac also shares Perry’s Posse and his late friend’s motto, “Quitting is not an option.”
A Benefit Dart Tournament is scheduled Aug. 19 at Airline Pub, 221, E. Airline Highway, LaPlace. Proceeds from the tournament will help people Perry’s Posse assists. Sign up begins at 6 p.m. and the tournament starts at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call (504) 487-4364.