Beloved BBQ Pitmaster Battles Cancer, Community Rallies

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A longtime, beloved barbecue pitmaster in Dallas is in the fight of his life.

But not without help from his community.

Walk into Back Country BBQ on Greenville Avenue in Lake Highlands just about any day of the week, and you’ll find him.

Earnist Griffith, 66, pitmaster at Back Country BBQ in Dallas.

Earnist Griffith has been the pitmaster at the locally owned restaurant for 45 years.

He’s quick to serve up piping hot barbecue with a friendly hello, even when his body is aching.

“Body-wise, I’m not hurting,” he said. “So yeah, it’s a pretty good day.”

Last September, severe back pain led Griffith to see his doctor.

One day after burying his sister who died of cancer, Griffith received a devastating diagnosis.

“It gets hard to talk about it,” he said wiping away tears. “I never thought that I would have cancer.”

Griffith said he has been diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer.

“[My doctor] showed me a piece of paper. He said: ‘Normally I would say: this part, this part, this part is cancerous. But Mr. Griffith, I can just show you now.’ He just colored the whole thing out. He said: ‘That’s you. It’s in your bones. Chemo would not work.’”

The 66-year-old had been eyeing retirement, but he is now faced with costly medication including injections not fully covered by health insurance.

“My first doctor visit will be Friday,” said Griffith. “I’ll know where the insurance will pay for it or not.”

If not, “then I’m just going to keep working.”

Customers have flocked to a GoFundMe fundraiser hoping to ease Griffith’s financial burden.

The goal is to help him pay medical bills and maybe even help pay off his house.

“It’s amazing to know all the stuff that I’ve done through the years that there’s people that actually appreciate it,” he said. “I want to say, I love y’all. I love every one of you and I’m appreciative and I really thank y’all from the bottom of my heart for everything y’all done for me.”

If you would like to contribute to the fundraiser, click here.

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