June 14th, 2011
When singer Jimmy Borges innocently posted a Facebook message a few months back, that he had liver cancer, he wasn’t prepared for the swarm of concern, interest and support.
He also had discreetly called a few close friends, to share the news, but was content with keeping his personal affairs under the radar. He was wary of going “public” with his situation, for obvious reasons. Rumors and chatter surfaced.
He had confided in me and a few others about his dilemma and his understandable fear, and I had suggested he contact Tony Ruivivar, founder-performer in the Society of Seven group, since Ruivivar had successfully battled his own liver cancer ordeal. The resulting chat was not only inspirational, but educational —Borges learned of the power of prayer and the value of determined support from those who truly care about him.
I also had cautioned Jeremiah — that’s what I call him, and that’s how he signs his e-mails and voicemails — you know, like in“Jeremiah was a bullfrog,” in Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World” hit — of the dangers and risks of total silence about his condition, because of the nature of gossip. It's a small town, after all, and the entertainment community is very much connected.
A couple of weeks into treatment — after Borges underwent chemotherapy to shrink the cancer in his liver – he discovered there was mounting misinformation out there. On Twitter. In conversations. He heard what others might have spread— some untruths.
“I was naïve concerning misinformation being spread, fostering questions,” he said in an e-mail last week.
So he decided it was time to go public about his situation, simultaneously thanking those who have brought him unfathomable comfort and kokua — namely, the likes of Ruivivar and Bert Sagum, another founder of the SOS .
“Tony beat his (cancer), like I’m hoping to beat mine,” said the determined Borges.
And he’s so appreciative of his circle of boosters.
“My angel of a wife, Vicki, who is one of the Governor’s (Gov. Neil Abercrombie) schedulers, comes home every lunch hour to check on me, and my daughter Steffanie, and my son-in-law Randy, flew in from L.A. to help take care of ‘daddy’ for two weeks,” said Borges.
The other day, Borges’ long-time pal and frequent collaborator in shows, Shari Lynn, brought over
“her famous Jewish chicken soup for me, guaranteed to cure everything.”
And Ruivivar, who made Borges an honorary eighth member of the Society of Seven in the 1970s when Borges was performing at Keone’s Lounge on Lewers Street, shoots him a daily reassuring text-message prayer every day.
“They’re so personal and meaningful,” said Borges. “Tony gives me so much strength and determination. He’s so special in my heart.”
And so is Jeremiah — special in the hearts of many ... one of the truly beloved class-act entertainers in our town.
The jazz singer had canceled some gigs when he was diagnosed with the cancer; he's starting to schedule performances later this year. So the adage is true: The show must go on.