My name is Viviana, and I am married to Master Sergeant Justin Davis. We have three beautiful children and a bulldog named Roxy. In 2016, I had been experiencing unexplained, severe physical symptoms. When I sought medical care, I was misdiagnosed or dismissed by medical specialists. I was so busy with my young family that I did not advocate more on my own behalf. I trusted the medical community to provide quality care for me and was not aware the symptoms indicated a serious medical condition.
Master Sergeant Justin and Viviana Davis
Justin and I were “on top of the world,” and we rejoiced in the family we always believed in our hearts for and our promising careers. It was early 2020, and our lives took a wild and unexpected turn.After several visits to the ER with severe symptoms, my primary care doctor referred me to yet another gastroenterologist. A week later, I woke up to learn I had a large tumor and stage 3b colorectal cancer. My husband was standing beside me, holding my hand. Both of us were in disbelief, not knowing what to do. I was only 34 years old. My thoughts... Will my little ones remember me? Will I see my son graduate from high school? Will I see my daughter get married? I need time—more time.
Our lives changed significantly that year. The heartache and despair were deeply overwhelming. I underwent several surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. Because of COVID-19, I endured most of my treatment and hospitalizations alone, without my family beside me. It was frightening and heartbreaking to face the disease alone, without my family's support. As a young mother, I worried about my husband and children at home without me. Later that year, I achieved remission; we celebrated the incredible news during the Christmas holidays.
In late 2022, my family and I relocated to Ansbach, Germany; lab tests indicated tumor growth. In my heart, I knew something was terribly wrong—the cancer had returned. It was time to find answers. I needed to fight for myself and my family; I was now prepared to advocate for myself. I recall telling a neighbor that I had to make a very expensive hotel reservation near Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany because my appointment with oncology was early in the morning; we lived hours away. I felt overwhelmed, far away from home and family, living on a whole different continent. There were language and medical barriers. My neighbor asked me if I knew about the Fisher House and shared that her husband stayed there for a medical procedure. It was my first time hearing about the Fisher House; my neighbor sent me the link and point of contact only 48 hours before my appointment.
I emailed Fisher House, thinking I didn't have anything to lose. To my surprise, the house managers from the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Army Fisher House responded immediately and approved me. I was unfamiliar with the Fisher House and didn’t know what to expect, but I felt relieved that I had been accepted right away. I arrived late at night; the Fisher House felt like home even though I spent most of my time in the hospital. Several doctor visits, scans, and a biopsy later confirmed the cancer had returned and was now Stage 4 at 37 years old. I was deeply discouraged and afraid. ...Afraid of not seeing my kids grow up, of not fulfilling my dream of growing old with my husband, and of not holding my grandchildren in my arms. Fearful of dying.
Our family was quickly ushered back to the United States for treatment. I am grateful for the heartfelt care and quick response of my husband's leadership team. Special thanks to Battalion Commander BC LTC Anderson and Erin—and to everyone in Ansbach who helped us get home quickly for my treatment. Many individuals worked together to care for our family and return us hurriedly. My heart and mind were racing on the sprint home. Emotionally, the heartache was consuming and exhausting. What will my family do when I am gone? Who will care for my children? Practically, the financial cost of illness is tremendous. I am unable to work. How can I prepare for my family financially?
Arriving in El Paso, Texas, we encountered many obstacles trying to find a temporary place to stay with three children. My hospital case manager contacted the Fisher House in El Paso. The Fisher House team welcomed our family with open arms. I felt peaceful, like I was home. I could be myself. No expectations; similar to a beautiful hotel, but more important; it felt like an actual home. I received immense love and care from Mrs. Alice and her assistant, who did everything possible to ensure my three young children and I would feel safe, protected, cared for, and at home. The Fisher House team welcomed our family with open arms. ~I felt peaceful, like I was home.
Every day was different. I had many doctor appointments, all with negative reports and little hope for recovery or a future with my family. The house managers, staff, volunteers, and other guests at the Fisher House took time to listen and comfort me. The guests are at the Fisher House for serious medical reasons. We have that in common and lean on each other. I was accepted, and I knew I could reach out if I needed help. Their care for me and my family during this stressful and heartbreaking time provided the strength I needed to move forward. During my stay, I was never limited to the number of guests I could have. The accommodations were there for me without limit. This was important to me because there were days that were very dark. Friends helped me care for my children and provided support—they would sit with me and listen.
Feeling like we had exhausted our medical options in Texas, my family and I decided to seek out additional medical counsel and transferred my care to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle to receive treatment and the support of my family living in Washington State. My husband had been accepted and planned to attend the Sergeant Major Academy (SGM) in El Paso, but God had other plans for us. Gratefully, the SGM Academy helped us get to Washington State. In 48 hours, we had packed all our belongings in suitcases and were on our way to Joint Base Lewis McChord. My family in Kirkland, Washington, did not know we were coming home; it was a joyful and deeply emotional reunion for my mother and my family.
At that time, I decided I would find a way to volunteer at the Fisher House. My family and I are forever grateful for the Fisher House, the Friends of Fisher House, and all the employees and volunteers. As I continue to navigate this cancer face and fight to prolong my life, I will continue to help those I can, when I am able. I encourage others to learn about the Fisher House and the Friends of Fisher House Puget Sound, to volunteer resources, and most importantly, to share the mission with others. After we settled in, I reached out to the Fisher House at Madigan Army Medical Center and offered myself as a volunteer. I started volunteering in July 2023, and it continues to be a wonderful experience.
My heart feels full every time I visit the Fisher House to provide support. I help rotate foods, clean and dust furniture, and when it is not too hot, my children and I pull weeds. I enjoy talking with guests at the Fisher House and providing support. Additionally, I serve on the Advisory Support Team for the Friends of Fisher House Puget Sound to raise funds and awareness for the four Fisher Houses in Washington State because a family's love is good medicine.
Friends of Fisher House Puget Sound...because a family's love is good medicine.
Viviana shares her very personal story in hopes of protecting and preventing others from experiencing the suffering she and her family continue to endure. To read Viviana's important message to others struggling with unexplained illness, click on the Family Stories tab and scroll down to Viviana's Important Message or copy and paste the link below in your searchbar: https://www.fisherhousevaps.org/vivianas-important-message.html
Your tax-deductible donations are meaningful in helping military families at times of great need. We appreciate your support.