Community rallies for 3-year-old cancer fighter

Family friend plans golf tournament for toddler battling Ewing’s sarcoma
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal features editor
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Jonathan and Jacy Davis’ family got a lot bigger when they learned that their 3-year-old daughter has a rare form of bone cancer. Their Grass Valley community has pulled together for several fundraisers, and now the effort is under way in Auburn, where a friend is organizing a benefit golf tournament.

“It’s awesome that we have the support of many different people out there,” Jonathan said. “It’s almost like having another family.”

The family’s journey started in November 2011, when Tallia (known as Talli) had inflammation in her left leg that was bothering her. What was initially thought to be pediatric arth-ritis was confirmed to be something much more serious when Talli was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. The family and medical team reacted quickly, starting chemotherapy and radiation at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.

Talli is nearing the end of 17 chemotherapy sessions – her last one will be on her 4th birthday. Her parents drive her to San Francisco every other week, meaning that her identical twin, Alexia, and 1-year-old sister Kenzie often stay with their grandparents. That was a particularly hard blow for the twins, who Jacy described as being “connected at the hip.”

It’s also meant lots of schedule adjustments for Jonathan, who works for the city of Grass Valley. In the beginning, he said, he drove to San Francisco and back every day for a month so Talli could undergo 15 minutes of radiation and he could still put in half a day of work.

Talli has been responding well to treatment, her parents said, but even when she’s cancer-free she’ll always have to be monitored for its possible return. Because the tumor is in her hip socket, Jonathan said, surgery is not an option and it’s probable that her legs won’t grow in the same way, meaning she’ll have to deal with prosthetics throughout her life, as well.

But through it all, Talli remains an upbeat, outgoing toddler who loves princess dresses and playing pranks on her family. While she didn’t understand what was happening at first, she’s now adapted to her new lifestyle, Jacy said.

“She knows it’s called cancer, she knows her medicine’s called chemo, she knows she lost her hair because of the medicine,” she said.

Her siblings have adapted, as well, understanding that sometimes the family has to stay inside and not be around other people, because germs could have big consequences for the young cancer patient.

Dave Kephart, of Lake of the Pines, worked with Talli’s grandfather John for more than 30 years at the Placer County Water Agency. He’s organizing “Rally for Talli,” a golf tournament that he hopes will help offset the costs of travel and other added expenses the Davises have incurred.

“Talk about resiliency and being the right stuff,” he said of Talli. “A lot of adults can’t really deal with that. They’ve been through it. It just breaks my heart.”

But faith, friends and family are keeping the family strong throughout this, Jacy said, along with Talli’s never-ending strength and optimism.

“Something just amazing happened in our family, and we have been so bonded,” she mused. “She taught me a lot about faith. She knows everything is going to be OK, and that’s what kinds of pulls me through. I feel like all three of our girls are just pulling us through.”

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at Follow her on Twitter, @AuburnJournalAE.


Rally for Talli

When: Wednesday, Aug. 29; check-in 11 a.m.; shotgun start 1 p.m.

Where: Dark Horse Golf Course, 24150 Dark Horse Drive, Auburn

Cost: $100 per person includes 18 holes of golf (scramble format; singles welcome), cart and range balls, barbecue dinner following tournament. Raffle prizes and silent auction. Tee sponsorships available, $100; dinner only, $20.

Information: Dave Kephart, (530) 906-4801 or