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Kate Doan nuzzles her 3-month-old son Hudson as while she rests outside of the Studio 831 gym in...
SANTA CRUZ -- This weekend, Nick Doan gets to take a break from his second round of radiation therapy and enjoy a community benefit organized in his honor by doting, lifelong friends in his Westside community.

A construction worker and beloved baseball coach at Santa Cruz High School, Doan, 33, has spent the past two months fighting an aggressive, inoperable form of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme.

Doctors discovered the tumor when Nick started having seizures about a month after his wife, Kate, gave birth to their second child. The cancer first appeared three years ago, in Nick's left frontal lobe. He went through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy to stop it. Now, another tumor is growing in an area of the brain used for language. Doctors don't want to operate and risk leaving Nick unable to communicate.

"On the lighter side, he's made it three years, and most people don't," Kate said with a tense smile, while nursing her baby boy, Hudson. "So, I don't underestimate him for anything."

In the face of a daunting diagnosis, the family's outlook is one of strength and positivity. It's impossible not to see that in Kate as she sits at a table in the shade outside Studio 831, a Westside gym where she exercises and where Nick's benefit will take place.

Paige Nutt Smith, a lifelong friend of both Nick and Kate, owns the gym, and it's also where Kate, 34, does her daily CrossFit workout. CrossFit involves a constant variation of functional movements, from Olympic weightlifting to cardio to gymnastics exercises.

Even with a baby in her arms, she looks more like a professional athlete than a woman who gave birth in March.

Normally, Kate works as a per-diem nurse, filling in open shifts when full-time nurses can't. But while taking care of Nick, plus their 5-year-old daughter and an infant, she hasn't been able to work. The Doans are now depending on help from friends and family and Emergency Medi-Cal insurance.

"I tried to get private insurance for him a couple of years ago," Kate said. "But with his history, they just basically laugh at you."

Two weeks ago, Nutt Smith and another close friend, Nicole Carter, came up with the idea to hold a benefit to raise money for the Doans and to bring the community together around them.
The women said they've been touched by the community's outpouring of support.

Businesses have donated numerous items for the raffle and silent auction that will be part of Sunday's event, including massages, haircuts, wine, kiteboarding lessons, skateboards, rounds of golf and stays at the Hilton and Hotel Paradox. The website Nutt Smith set up for people to donate to the family has brought in more than $13,400 from 130-plus donors.

Carter and Smith gushed about Nick's contagious smile, dry sense of humor and passion for his community and for children.

"He's the guy who will introduce himself to you and give you the handshake before anyone else will," Carter said.

The past two weeks have been a blur of planning for her and Nutt Smith. They've been promoting the benefit with fliers at local businesses and social networking.

"I just want people to come who want to be here," Kate said. "It'll be perfect however it is. It could be five people or it could be 105."

Carter said more than 1,100 Facebook invites have gone out and 111 people have given their virtual word that they would come.

With CrossFit workouts, a kids' obstacle course, beer and Jason Williams, of the local band Ribsys Nickel, as master of ceremonies, the three women are hoping the event will help keep up the positive energy Kate and Nick fill their lives with.

"This isn't an, 'Oh, I'm so sad,' situation," Kate said. "This is a very tough and tragic situation, but we're going to make it."

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If You Go
Benefit for Nick Doan
WHAT: Benefit event for Nick Doan, a local man who is fighting an aggressive type of brain cancer. The event will include CrossFit workouts for all ages and levels, an obstacle course workout and a bounce house for kids, a barbecue, beer, a silent auction and a raffle.
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. CrossFit workout for all ages and all levels at 10. Advanced CrossFit workout at 11. Obstacle course for kids at 11:30. Barbecue and beer to follow.
WHERE: Studio 831, 2351 Mission St., Santa Cruz
COST: $40 donation for one or two workouts, a hat, barbecue lunch and beer; $25 donation for one or two workouts and a hat; $20 donation for one or two workouts; $15 donation for barbecue lunch and beer.