Josh Irino is currently engaged in the fight of his life. And it's a battle against a fearsome and merciless opponent where the odds are firmly against him. Back in April, the 38-year-old drummer for rap 'n' roll band Property Six was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
Normally, those in Irino's condition are facing a virtual death sentence, as the survival rate for those with said affliction is less than 10 percent. (As such, doctors have given him less than a year to live.) However, it's not always an absolute, as a small number of stage four lung cancer patients have been known to fully recover. And Irino is hoping to be one of them.
According to Property Six bassist Ricky Goltz, Irino (who's currently undergoing chemotherapy and other cancer treatments in Calfornia at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center) is in extremely good spirits despite the bleak prognosis. And his positive attitude, Goltz says, may aid him in his battle against cancer.
"The doctor's have said they've seen people beat this before. It can be done, you've got to have a really good support system and got to be willing to put forth the effort and positive attitude to do it," Goltz says. "He's got to have a good positive circle around him and just to keep on fighting and keep his strength and attitude up as best as he can. His prognosis is that he's gonna beat it, Josh isn't afraid of it at all. He wants to kick cancer's ass."
Irino also has major backup in his fight, including a slew of friends and family members who have been providing positive vibes but have also helped organize this weekend's "Kick Cancer's Ass" benefit in his honor.
The daylong event, which takes place on Saturday at the Hydroponics Depot over on the westside, will raise money to help pay for Irino's treatments, in addition to benefiting the Sweet Relief, a California-based charity that assists uninsured musicians dealing with grievous illnesses or disabilities.
Irino, who has been without health insurance for years, was accepted by UCLA after his diagnosed due to a lack of local treatment options for someone in his situation. "If you're a musician with a pre-existing conditions and don't have any kids or family to take care of," Goltz says, "Then Arizona pretty much gives you the finger."
Irino, a longtime smoker, had been suffering from coughing fits and other breathing problems for a few months prior to being diagnosed. Doctors believed it was simply pneumonia. It wasn't.
"Josh has always had some lung issues. He'd been going to the hospital for the past six months and they kept telling him it was pneumonia," Goltz says. "He coughs and hacks a lot because he smokes. So he had that smoker's hack, and it didn't sound any worse than it normally did."
In the days following Property Six's performance at the Arizona Growers Cup and 420 Festival in April, however, Goltz says his bandmate was having "more trouble breathing than normal."
And this time, the diagnosis wasn't pneumonia. He was informed that his left lung was collapsed and also had been invaded by a large tumor.
"It was a big shock to us all," Goltz says. "So that means he played 4-20 with a collapsed lung. And for the couple of practices before that he was breathing real hard and were telling him to take it easy."
While the university's treatment program aids those in financial straits, it doesn't cover all of the costs involved or the expenses the Irino, a dual resident of both Arizona and California, accrued traveling between Phoenix and L.A. There's a possibility he may also have left lung removed at some point via surgery.
Hence, this weekend's benefit, which Goltz says will be a combination concert, carnival, and chill-out session taking place in the rear portion of the Hydroponics Depot. A car wash will be held until 5 p.m. while the rest of the day will feature a dunk tank, games, food and drinks, kids attractions, and other family-friendly fun.
Items such as Arizona Diamondbacks tickets, gift certificates from local restaurants and tattoo parlors, a painting by Blunt Club artist Adam "Dumperfoo" Dumper, and other prizes and shwag will be up for raffle during the benefit.
A lineup of live entertainment starts at 6 p.m. and includes performances by the Anaya belly dance troupe, and such musical acts as Bigg Limn, Hotboxx Academy, Sick Lake, Erich Vivian, and Never Too Late. Property Six will also offer an acoustic session and comedian Roberto Rodriguez will host.
"Everything will be set up sort of like a living room," Goltz says. "We're making it as chill as possible."