Friends and clients of J.L. Forke who tuned into last month’s Stand Up to Cancer telethon may have recognized a familiar face on their TV screens. The Dave Perry-Miller associate was volunteering on the red carpet outside the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
“I basically greeted every celebrity, every patient, and every scientist who walked the red carpet and showed them their stopping points for photos,” he said.
That’s a natural assignment for Forke, who is known for his sense of humor and engaging personality. But those attributes were not the major factors in his participation in the 2012 and 2014 editions of the telethon. He is also a survivor of stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The year of 2010 was one Forke will never forget. The first indication that something was wrong came in April, when he suffered from persistent migraines, jaw pain, and arm pain. By the time his cancer was diagnosed in May, it looked like he was fighting a losing battle; he was placed on total life support.
“My doctor asked me, ‘Do you know football?’” Forke recalled. “And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And he said, ‘Well, we just started the fourth quarter, and we’re down by four touchdowns.’ I said, “Uh-oh. I love football, and that’s bad!’”
The chemotherapy was effective in killing the cancer, but various side-effects kept Forke at Baylor University Medical Center through September. Fortunately, he had the help of an amazing group of doctors, nurses, and staff, who he hopes to thank with a celebration on the fifth anniversary of his being cancer free. (Forke promised his oncologist, Dr. Yair Levy, that the affair will include margaritas and a live band.)
It also didn’t hurt that Forke — who is co-chairing Saturday’s Preservation Dallas Fall Architectural Tour along with colleagues Ralph Randall and Madeline Jobst — had a steady stream of visitors brightening his room each day.
“The nurses, who became my family, told me they had never seen that many visitors in their careers, because I not only had my family, I had my friends, and I had all of my real estate family coming too,” said Forke, an agent in Dave Perry-Miller & Associates’ InTown office who has been a Realtor since 1998.
Although he got to interact with actor Jordana Brewster and Survivor winner Ethan Zohn during the telethon, “it was actually more exciting to meet some of the patients who were in the battle and to meet fellow survivors, who make me less worried my cancer will return,” Forke said. “I came away from it really inspired and motivated to do more for the cause.”
Forke recently ran in the Komen Race for the Cure to support seven friends. And he’d like to organize a watching party for the next Stand Up to Cancer telethon at an outdoor venue such as Victory Plaza or Klyde Warren Park. He said the watching party that was heralded as the largest during last month’s event was based at a bar in Pittsburgh.
“I just thought, ‘Really?’” Forke said with a laugh. “This is Dallas. We can do better than that.”