Norco man has twice battled cancer, endured 39 procedures

Craig and Rose Brignac

Will be beneficiary of Fishing for Frankie fundraiser

Craig “Shorty” Brignac has been dealt numerous blows over the past few years. Through them all, he’s persevered onward.

The Norco man, who will be the beneficiary of this year’s Fishing for Frankie tournament on Aug. 3, has endured 39 medical procedures since being diagnosed with testicular cancer six years ago. He underwent chemotherapy to treat the illness, but he went on to suffer pulmonary embolisms, blood clots in his legs, 19 stints, a hernia, two different types of e. coli, a heart attack – and, eventually, his second cancer diagnosis, this time esophageal cancer, which resulted in more chemotherapy and surgery that left him with a shortened esophagus.

“That’s all that’s been happening, which is a lot,” said Brignac’s wife, Rose. “It’s been an emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting experience. We’re ready to be on the other side of this.”

But Shorty fights through the exhaustion, with his wife by his side battling along with him. He calls Rose his inspiration, noting “I couldn’t have done any of it without my wife. From day one, she’s been my caretaker.”

Rose said it’s been a hard journey, some days harder than others, but the family’s faith in God and the love they have for each other and the people in their lives have spurred them onward.

“We’re about to have our ninth grandchild … you just put one foot in front of the other,” said Rose, who lost her mother earlier this year and has taken leave from her work at R.J. Vial Elementary School. “He’s a fighter. I’m a fighter and a cheerleader for him, always researching what he should be eating, talking to doctors … I know his love for me and for his family makes him fight, and my love for him makes me fight right along with him.”

In August, Shorty will undergo a PET (positron emission tomography) scan that will hopefully show a clean reading. From there, the goal is to have gained enough weight to undergo a pericardium strip surgery that would address a hardening of his pericardium, after bacteria played a role in causing it to thicken.  A specialist in Ohio put him on a regiment to prepare him for the surgery.

“As much weight as he’s lost, and having gone through 39 procedures already, he couldn’t make it out of surgery, otherwise,” Rose said.

They’ll receive a lift soon. The Fishing for Frankie tournament, now in its 11th year, will benefit Shorty. It will be held at Somme’s Marina in Des Allemands. Check-in begins at 4:30 a.m. and weigh in will commence at noon.

The tournament began as a way to honor the memory of Frankie Champagne Jr., a resident of Luling who passed away in 2007 following a battle with lung cancer and who was known for his generous and uplifting nature.

Audrey Raziano, Champagne’s sister, said she never imagined the event would endure as it has for over a decade.

“I just never dreamed it would last this long. It’s so crazy,” Raziano said. “Our family grows every year. It feels like each recipient becomes part of the family.”

Last year, 54 boats entered and the event raised more than $20,000.

Rose said she couldn’t express enough gratitude on her and Shorty’s behalf for the gesture.

“There are really no words. What can you say to describe how thankful you are, how appreciative you are, how amazing you think this community is for so many people to come out and do anything they can to help,” Rose said. “It’s just amazing.”


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