Zafia’s Family House
● By Style
Photos by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
Paralyzed and on hospice with bone cancer in 2006, 14-year-old Zafia Fyfe had a wish: to build a house where families could stay while their children or family members were being treated for serious illnesses.
Robert and Rebecca Fyfe of El Dorado Hills adopted Zafia from Russia at the age of three. She lived a healthy, happy life until at age 12 she developed a sudden knee pain, which quickly escalated. She received a preliminary diagnosis of bone cancer, and spent the next two years in and out of the Roseville Kaiser pediatric oncology unit. “I know they can’t do a whole lot for me right now, or other kids, but maybe there’s something else we can do,” Zafia told her mother. She felt sorry that her parents had to use sleep chairs to stay near her or drive all the way home and be too far away to return quickly.
Other families are in even worse situations, commuting from places such as Modesto or Marysville. The cost to stay somewhere nearby is prohibitive as the patients are often long-term. Zafia’s strength and positive outlook helped her dream for others, as well as herself. Since she passed away, the Fyfes have been working to bring their daughter’s dream to fruition.
Dr. Kent Jolly, assistant chairman for the non-profit organization, Zafia’s Family House, is a pediatric oncologist at Roseville Kaiser, and Zafia’s former physician. “Zafia’s Family House will allow the community to provide support for the children and adults who are hospitalized for long periods of time in any Roseville area hospital,” Dr. Jolly says. He adds that this will be particularly useful to children in the neonatal intensive care unit. “Most of the cancer kids are only at Roseville, hence my personal involvement,” he says. “But if we look at the community’s need as a whole, a much larger number of affected families will probably be the parents of premature babies and those [families] are present at all three of the local hospitals. There is no local affordable housing for the families of premature babies, outside of downtown.”
Thanks to help from Roseville Mayor Pauline Roccucci, Rebecca Fyfe is encouraged. Employees of the City of Roseville – on their annual campaigns – are now contributing around $10,000 a year. All that’s left is to build Zafia’s Family House. The plan is to locate it near Roseville Kaiser and Sutter Roseville Hospitals, also accessible to Mercy San Juan Hospital. The goal is to raise at least $750,000 to be in a position to build the house and support it for two years.
Moreover, enough money needs to be available to ensure that the house can continue to be funded once it’s built. Board member Donna Knezevich says several successful fundraising events took place earlier this year. Upcoming events include a crab feed in October and a dinner/dance at Morgan Creek Country Club on April 25, 2013.
Visit zafiasfamilyhouse.org for more information.