DRAPER—Most of us enjoy our family, friends and community when times are easy, but it’s often when things are tough that they are most precious and we need them the most. When they step up and stand with us through hard times, it forever solidifies those bonds.
That’s how it is for Daniel and Jessica Cavar. Daniel (known as “Dado”) Cavar teaches physical education at St. John the Baptist Middle School and is a former Juan Diego Catholic High School soccer coach. He also coaches three Utah Soccer Alliance teams. The two are parents to Bentley, 6 and Dominic, 4. The family belongs to St. John the Baptist Parish.
In November 2016, after experiencing severe abdominal pain, Jessica Cavar was diagnosed with Stage III follicular lymphoma. She immediately had two surgeries followed by five rounds of chemotherapy, and her condition seemed to stabilize. A CT scan just three months ago seemed to indicate the disease was in check.
However, not long afterward the abdominal pain reoccurred and doctors found that Jessica’s lymph nodes had doubled in size and there was now an unusual growth around her kidneys.
This week Jessica underwent surgery at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for doctors to determine the best course to address the lymphoma and to evaluate the other growth and its treatment. Even if things go well, it will be six to 12 months before she will be able to return home.
“She’s very strong as a person, but this is for sure a heavy hitter for her,” Daniel Cavar said of his wife.
It’s already been a long haul for the young family in what will likely be a lifetime battle as there is currently no cure for Jessica’s disease. (Various treatments can often bring relief from the disease’s symptoms and many with the disease experience long periods of remission).
Daniel Cavar says they could not endure this journey alone, and they have been overwhelmed by the support of those around them.
Recently, one of his Alliance team managers, Patricia Peacock, whose own husband Jay is suffering from cancer, and board members Kristine Tillman (a cancer survivor herself) and Sarah Devenberg put together a spaghetti dinner/bake sale/silent auction fundraiser at St. John the Baptist Elementary School.
Cavar’s team players and parents and club board members helped put together the event in just three weeks, Tillman said.
More than 500 people showed up to the event, many of them strangers to the Cavars, to support the couple. At the end of the night they had raised more than $20,000 for the Cavar Family Cancer Foundation, which was organized by Jessica Cavar to help people and families that are coping with cancer.
“All of us know cancer takes a great deal from the families, and we all just want to help and give back,” Tillman said. “Jessica has done so much for others. It was the least we could do for them and give back. Daniel has touched many of our kids’ lives by being their coach. He not only is a coach to them but also a mentor and friend.”
The couple was moved by the support.
“So much love was there that night. I don’t have an easy way to explain the gratitude we feel, to know how much we are loved – it’s phenomenal to get the support,” Daniel Cavar said. “We want to tell everybody that this is a big thank you from me and my family. I also want to tell them to always keep your family very close together because you never know what can happen.”
Their faith has been precious to the Cavars, he said.
“It’s hard, but I believe a lot in faith,” he said of their struggle. “God is always next to me and supports me through the people around me.”
“There are so many wrong things in the world, but there is so much support in situations like this. It brings people together,” he said. “We feel the warmth, that people are there to support you. It numbs the pain away.”
To donate to the Cavar Family Cancer Foundation, visit http://www.utahsocceralliance.org/.