DISCLOSURE: Stephanie Salazar is a friend of Randy Parker, the subject of this story. She is also helping to organize the benefit for Parker’s fight with cancer.
HAWAIIAN PARADISE PARK, Hawaii – Its easy for musician and former radio voice Randy Parker to recall a life of good times while relaxing here at his home in Hawaiian Paradise Park. Especially when he is by the side of his childhood friend and artist Nelson Makua.
But Randy has suffered a set back these days: A life changing diagnosis of head and neck cancer.
In April 2013, physicians at Queens diagnosed him with stage IVa hypopharangeal cancer — cancer near his larynx. That was grim news for Parker, who had a weekly gig at Cafe Pesto.
And incredibly, Randy’s Kailua grammar school friend knows exactly what he is going through. Nelson Makua has fought the same fight against head and neck cancer.
The two have endured depression, huge medical bills, and a very direct confrontation with their mortality.
This same cancer has affected others in the community. Gary Safarik, a politician who represented Puna on the County Council, as well as Jim Kauahikaua, the scientist in charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
The four all ran the gauntlet of head and neck cancer treatment – aggressive chemotherapy and radiation protocols with harsh side effects. Like many other cancer patients, they had to cope with nausea, extreme fatigue, and hair loss. Radiation to the head and neck, along with chemo drugs, caused mouth sores, loss of hearing, diminished taste buds and for three of them, reliance on a stomach feeding tube, due to raw, painful throat tissue burned by radiation.
Makua, Safarik and Kauahikaua had significant weight loss, more than 30 pounds each.
Now, friends are planning a benefit to help Parker cover extraordinary medical expenses for his treatment. Kauahikaua’s wife, singer/musician Jeri Gertz, lined up musicians who are donating their talent for a day long concert. Nelson Makua designed a limited edition Na Makua T-shirt that features lyrics from one of Parker’s songs. The Tees will be on sale at the event and online at NaMakua.com.
The event will be this Saturday, August 24th, from 10am to 7pm at Sangha Hall in Hilo… everyone is invited to Kokua Randy Parker, and have a good time for a good cause. The stellar musical lineup includes Mark Yamanaka, Lloyd Longakit, Ben Kaili & hula dancers, John Keawe, Randy Lorenzo & Friends, Lito Arkangel, Darryl Castillo, El Leo, Sherry Fox & Yisa Var, Rupert Tripp, Bruddah Waltah, Tina Garber, and Ira and Dru Kekaualua (Kolea). Guest emcees include radio personalities Skylark, DC, and Yisa. KGMB TV reporter Ramsay Wharton will judge the best chili of the day. The silent auction includes donations from island merchants and features two guitars, a kayak and a Hawaiian hand-quilt pillow.
Recuperating at his Puna home, Parker is on a three month break as he waits for the chemotherapy drugs to leave his body. He is confident that his next scan in September will show no cancer.
For more info visit kokuarandyparker.com