It was not unlike any other day for 9-year old-Konar Davenport, who plays Hoopsters Basketball and earns scholar awards in his 3rd grade class at Cutten Elementary. With pride in his voice he talked with his mom, Stephanie Pitzer, about his spelling words and his recently acquired award.
The day ended with kisses goodnight and snuggles for a good night's sleep. It was only a couple of hours later when Konar's older brother 12 year old Tyler came running into the room announcing, "Konar is throwing up." With the flu season hitting the nation hard, Pitzer did not think too much of it until she laid eyes on her limp, jaw locked, vomiting and incoherent son. At first she thought he was just not fully awake, but quickly realized he was in serious trouble and called 911.
The doctors soon came back with a diagnosis -- cancer, aggressive cancer. They did not expect him have more than a 20 percent chance to live more than another 3 to 4 years.
Pitzer's legs were weak, her breath taken, and her head filled with questions.
"I was scared beyond words and then devastated asking how could this happen," she said. "I want more than anything to have this cancer in my body for him. To take it away from him and protect him. I am his mother, it is what I do and what I have always done. How can I not fix this?"
Konar is in Sacramento at the Ronald McDonald house for the next six to seven weeks for this wave of treatment. Konar has anaplastic astrocytoma glioma which is considered a high-grade cancer that has infiltrated in the brain tissue and cannot be surgically treated.
Konar was fitted with him mask and received a CT scan on Wednesday. Today, with his hand in his mother's, he will be exploring Sacramento before he receives his port on Friday. A last stretch of peace and then the unthinkable sufferings of radiation on Monday with Chemotherapy on Thursday. It is the treatment plan for many cancer patients that no one can truly understand without having endured it themselves.
Konar is aware of his cancer and what lies ahead. His mom keeps a smile on her face and does not let the tears take control. Pitzer shares, "I see his smiling face every day, his strong spirit, and I realize it is the magic of Konar that is keeping me strong."
Pitzer reflects on the amazing strength of her oldest son who found Konar, held her hand in the ambulance, and comforted her as they waited for the devastating news. "Tyler is a rock and wants to be by my side to help me in any way he can," Pitzer said. Konar has a younger brother who is only 4 and understands his big brother is ill and going away for a while to get better.
There is a strong community of women who live in the Eel River Valley and beyond who have donated their time and energy to helping families and children in need. They do this because they themselves have experienced cancer or some other life threatening illness with their children.
The board of Ethan & Teyler Totes -- well known for thousands of totes filled with items and distributed to UCSF and Stanford to ease the stress of flights and unexpected extended stays -- will be meeting this week to brainstorm how to help this family.
Konar has a couple Facebook pages and on his PrayforKonar page, his father's platoon posted a picture of a get well sign for Konar all the way from Afghanistan stating, "From all of us, you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Stay strong little man and we will see you when we get home."
A Hope for Konar Spaghetti Feed Fundraiser is being held on Monday from 5-8 p.m. at the Eureka Elk's Lodge at 445 Herrick Ave. in Eureka with silent and live auctions. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. All proceeds from the fundraiser will go to uncovered medical expenses and any other of Konar's needs.
There will be a takeout option at the fundraiser with signs to direct supporters where to pick up to go orders. The fundraising committee would like to encourage everyone who can to car pool as there is a great response. There have been many donations for the auction and Konar's big brother Tyler will be there to welcome everyone and share the family's gratitude.
Pitzer is saddened that she will be in Sacramento for the fundraiser, but is going to be set up for 10 minute Skype sessions every hour during the fundraiser. "I will never be able to show my appreciation enough for all that is happening in his honor," she said. "I only hope that one day that Konar and I will be able to pay it forward to as many people as we can. The support and thoughtfulness during this has been amazing. We still have a very long road ahead, but the key word is 'long.' My baby deserves a long life filled with all the wonderful things and experiences life has to offer."
Tickets to the event are available at Bev's Real Kids in Henderson Center in Eureka. Donations for the silent auction can be dropped off there. For more information, contact Jennifer at 499-8481.
Konar will spend the next few weeks in Sacramento. Many have wondered how to make his stay better and keep his mind off of his treatment. "He loves Legos, drawing, video games, and Will Smith," said Pitzer.
Due to treatment plans, Konar's diet will change dramatically and travel back and forth will be endless. If you would like to send a care package to Konar and his mom their address is Stephanie Pitzer and Konar Davenport c/o Ronald McDonald House Room 307, 2555 49th St., Sacramento, CA 95817.
Photos by Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer/Beacon
1. Konar Davenport is beginning the fight of his life with an inoperable brain tumor that gives him a 20 percent chance to live longer than 3 to 4 years.
2. Konar (left) poses with his mother Stephanie (seated), older brother Tyler (right), and younger brother Mikhail (front).