Funding the cure


Showalter Hallperformance to raise funds for Cat Davis

Senior creative writing majors Jared Munson and Dan Mullen will present a benefit performance on behalf of Spokane native Cat Davis, who was diagnosed with CREST syndrome at 22 and now needs a special medical procedure.

Munson happened to read about Cat Davis’s situation on Facebook. She is now 24. “I turned right around and called Dan,” he said. “I had to do something.”

The group “Actors, Comedians, Entertainers,” of which Munson and Mullen are founding members, will present a free, live evening of entertainment at Showalter Auditorium on Friday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. Attendees can make freewill donations at the door as well as bid for prize items at the post-performance benefit auction.

Auction items will be geared toward college students. One item, for example, is two dinners at a local restaurant and two movie tickets.

Later Munson learned that Davis’s niece, Kendal Davis, is a freshman here at Eastern. “We [Cat and I] hang out a lot,” said Kendal Davis. “She moved back to Spokane [to be] with her folks. … We’re all super-close.”

CREST syndrome is a subcategory of scleroderma. CREST stands for calcinosis, Raynaud’s, esophageal dysmotility, sclerodactyly and telangiectasia—conditions that affect Cat Davis’s skin, internal organs, ability to swallow and keep food down. Scleroderma itself is a disease of progressive hardening and contracting of the skin and connective tissues. It can be local (in only one place) or it can affect the entire body. Cat Davis’s condition is in the latter category. Symptoms of scleroderma cause increasing pain and suffering over time and eventually, without effective treatment, cause death.

A stem cell transplant involves injecting healthy stem cells into the body to replace diseased stem cells and to help your body to make its own healthy blood. After injection, stem cells develop into a healthy version of one of the three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets.

Because of the pain and stiffness Cat Davis experiences from her tightening tissues and other symptoms, she cannot work.
Despite her suffering, visitors to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago find her cheerful and grateful, according to niece Kendal Davis.

“It’s been an up and down kind of thing,” said Kendal Davis. “Some days are much better than others and some days are really really awful. The coolest thing ever that I heard is she’s always more sick, but if you didn’t know that she was dying you would never guess. … She’s the most fun-loving person I’ve ever met. Of course she has her days and her moments. It’s very hard. … For the most part her spirits are higher than the normal person.”

According to Cat Davis’s website, her body is slowly and painfully hardening around her.
Every treatment she has been able to find has been tried, but none of them have effectively combated the disease. Without effective treatment in the near future, her doctors tell her she will die.

The treatment for her condition, a stem cell transplant, was recommended by her doctor.

Cat Davis has been approved for the transplant procedure, which according to her website, will be performed at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, also in Chicago. Only the procedure itself will be covered by insurance, Kendal Davis said.

Cat Davis cannot perform most normal functions by herself because of her condition, so Sally Davis, her mother, travels with her and takes care of her.

Cat Davis’s current expense for her hand medicine alone is $1,600 per month after insurance.
Recent fundraisers have brought in over $30,000, but  her expenses will grow for several years after the stem cell procedure.
Traveling costs, food, medicine, doctor visits, postoperative care, therapy and other expenses will easily reach six figures annually for the necessary five years of postoperative treatment. The Oct. 26 performance at Showalter will help defray these expenses.

Kendal Davis said, “Everyone can help have a part in saving her life. That’s what we’re doing in this campaign and everyone’s been so generous putting on events. Even if someone just attends, everything they do makes a difference.”

“Spokane is a small enough city to care, but big enough to do something about it,” said Cat Davis. “I’m a firm believer that God hears prayers, and God heard people’s prayers. … I literally owe Spokane my life and I plan to serve them the rest of my days.”
On Oct. 16, Cat Davis turned 25.