By Lauren LaViola
On October 23, 2014, Nashville residents Kristen and Joshua Davis welcomed their baby girl, Claire, into the world. Born at just 35 weeks and known to most as “Claire Bear,” Claire weighed only 3 pounds, 4 ounces and spent the first six weeks of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit. She was born with Down syndrome and at just three months old, she had open-heart surgery to repair an Atrioventricular Septal Defect (AVSD) heart defect. As though Claire and her parents hadn’t gone through enough already, Claire was diagnosed with leukemia at just six months old.
With Claire being so young, the doctors at The Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt wanted to wait until she was one year old to begin her treatment. After Claire’s first birthday in October 2014, she began her first round of chemotherapy. The treatment plan consists of a total of six months of inpatient chemotherapy in six-week intervals. Each round keeps her in the hospital for weeks at a time. Kristen and Josh trade off staying with her every night and get very few nights together at home, only when a friend or family member is able to come stay with Claire for an evening. Throughout all of this, Josh has continued to work as an executive sous chef with Sodexo in Nashville, and Kristen has continued to work her shifts at Sportsman’s Lodge in Brentwood, Tennessee.
In January of this year, Claire’s primary oncologist told her family that some test results came back to confirm that the predisposition within Claire’s cytogenetics to have acute myeloid leukemia had been totally wiped out. This meant that the little part of Claire’s DNA that made her susceptible to leukemia is no longer a part of her DNA. She still had three rounds of chemo to complete but this was the news they had been waiting for.
Claire is now 18 months old and has completed five of her six rounds of chemo, accompanied by numerous IV sticks, blood draws, X-rays, bone marrow biopsies, blood transfusions and feeding tubes. She is quite the fighter and her parents, along with her dog Ranger, are excited for her to be done with this journey and at home with her family where she belongs.
CORE was able to support Claire and her family in several ways. CORE got her an iPad to help entertain her through the many long days and nights at the hospital, as well as serving as an educational tool with apps designed to assist children with Down syndrome. CORE’s Executive Director, Lauren LaViola, delivered a wardrobe of warm, comfortable clothes to Claire and her family, to get her through the next six months or longer, along with a crawling Minnie Mouse (Claire’s favorite) and a Minnie Mouse blanket. CORE was also able to make a contribution to a pre-existing fund for the family to help with their needs. The Davis family is incredibly grateful for the support; they send their love and gratitude to all of those who continue to help CORE “Give Back to Our Own”! On behalf of CORE and the Davis Family, we thank you.