One year ago this past Saturday, the frailty of life was magnified for the Davy family. This past weekend, the caring spirit of a community came through even larger.
“It says a lot about the kindness of strangers,” said an emotional Tammy Davy (née Romyn), a former Stratton resident now living in Badger, Mn., whose 19-month-old son, Gavin, was the guest of honour at a two-game charity exhibition hockey series at the Ice for Kids Arena between the Muskie girls and Sioux Lookout Warriors.
About $2,500 was raised to help cover Gavin’s accumulated medical expenses during the past year after he was diagnosed with retinal blastoma—a form of eye cancer found in children under the age of five—exactly a year ago Saturday.
Muskie head coach Jim McMahon was informed by a co-worker about Gavin’s situation and decided the two games with Sioux Lookout, which had been postponed from earlier this season, provided the perfect opportunity to provide the courageous toddler with some much-needed help.
“It felt really good to be able to help out in this way,” said McMahon. “It was nice to see the support we got from the community.”
When Gavin’s eyes began watering excessively just over a year ago, Tammy said “mother’s intuition” told her something was terribly wrong.
The confirmation of the disease—which produced tumours in both of Gavin’s eyes—threw the lives of Tammy, her husband, Rob, and their sons Robby, five, and Jared, three, into a frightening state of uncertainty.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Tammy recalled upon learning of the chilling news. “It was overwhelming, but it made us learn that you have to appreciate every day you have with your family.”
The first stage of Gavin’s treatment involved monthly visits from last April through September for chemotherapy. The situation seemed to have rectified itself—until a follow-up examination late last year revealed the cancer had returned in full force.
“We were so devastated when we found out it had come back,” Tammy said. “We had the choice of either more chemotherapy, a series of radiation treatments, or having the more affected right eye removed.
“We decided to go with the radiation.”
What followed was a four-week regimen of daily treatments starting in late January in Minneapolis, with the family staying at the local Ronald McDonald House facility during the ordeal.
Through it all, Tammy said Gavin dealt with his unlucky twist of fate better than anyone.
“After a while, he got to know the doctors and which hallway to go down, and he just took it all in stride,” she smiled. “He’s a little trooper. Kids can handle more than adults, at least, I think they can.”
A March 6 examination was the litmus test as to how well Gavin had responded to the treatments. The result was like a heavenly ray of hope ripping a crater through the storm clouds.
“The cancer is now inactive,” Tammy enthused. “God has answered our prayers. But we couldn’t have got through it without the support of our families, and the help of others.”
But the feeling of relief is tempered by the knowledge that should another examination in two months show the cancer has returned, the removal of Gavin’s right eye may be unavoidable.
There also is the chance the disease could attack again until he passes the crucial fifth birthday.
But here Saturday afternoon, it wasn’t concern but gratitude that filled the heart of Tammy Davy as she witnessed the unfolding of a most memorable day.
“It’s an incredible feeling to just sit here and watch this happen, and to know it’s all for Gavin,” she said.