NEWS | February 21, 2013

Cake marks end of therapy for pediatric cancer patient


The UC Davis Pediatric Infusion Center started a new tradition Wednesday with the presentation of a beautifully frosted cake in honor of the end of therapy for one young cancer patient.

Iryss and father
Iryss Holliday cuts her cake with the help of her father, Dwayne Holliday.

Tiny Iryss Holliday seemed stunned when led into a room where a bright white cake with pink and purple frosting had her name on it with the message, “You did it.”

Many of Iryss’ caregivers, including nurses, radiation therapists and physicians, attended the event, applauding as she was presented with the cake.

Anjali Pawar, the pediatric oncologist overseeing Iryss’ care, launched the effort to recognize children and their families for their courage and perseverance during months of often difficult cancer treatment.

The cake was donated by the Keaton Raphael Memorial, a foundation dedicated to supporting pediatric cancer patients and research.

Iryss Holliday
Dr. Anjali Pawar and Dwayne Holliday surprise Iryss Holliday with a cake.

“These children have had to battle with sadness and loneliness, and now they get to celebrate and get back to a normal life,” said Teresa Hotkenke, the foundation’s executive director. “It sends a message of hope.”

The Fairfield pre-schooler was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer. She had one kidney removed, 15 radiation therapy treatments and 33 weeks of chemotherapy.

“We had you come here for so many unpleasant things, and we are all happy you have come so far,” Pawar said. “So we decided to have a little cake.”

Iryss’ father, Dwayne Holliday, was teary-eyed when asked about the importance of the day.

“This is not even real for me yet,” he said. “This is almost like a second home for us.”

Holliday says his daughter is feeling much better, and has a great appetite.

“I can’t keep her fed,” he joked. “She wants to eat everything.”

A single father, Holliday had to quit his job to attend to his daughter’s medical needs. He is just starting back at work, part time. As for his daughter, there is much to do.

“I have a lot of things planned for her,” he said. “She will be a busy girl.”