From left, Rebecca Beltran, Dr. Vonda Crouse, Royann Alanis and Jayson Beltran stand with a portrait of Jacob Alanis, and a model paintiing from Paint Night. The charity group, Jacob’s Warriors, raised $2,500 for the Cancer Center at Valley Children’s Hospital. (Cecelia Jones)
When Jacob Alanis was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 12, he was given two months to live. Alanis, however, had not resigned himself to die, and decided to fight his illness. He would make it another two years before he passed away peacefully at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera on July 13, 2014, at the at the age of 14.
“He put up a battle,” said Royann Alanis, Jacob’s mother. “That’s why we’re called ‘Jacob’s Warriors,’ because he was a warrior and we continue his fight.”
Nearly two years after Jacob Alanis died, his Warriors mobilized. Wishing to show their gratitude towards the Cancer Center at Valley Children’s Hospital, they started a charity event, called Paint Night, in his memory.
The event, held at the Toca Madera Winery at 36140 Avenue 9, on June 30, saw patrons spend the evening painting, sampling wine, and remembering Jacob Alanis.
By the end of the evening, Jacob’s Warriors managed to raise $2,500 for the Cancer Center, along with an additional $350 later donated by the Toca Madera Winery. The check was presented July 7 to Dr. Vonda Crouse, who, along with Dr. James Ozeran, was there with Jacob and his family through two years of surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, platelet and blood infusions, and an induced coma.
“I’ll never forget Dr. Ozeran,” said Royann. “In the last weeks of Jacob’s life, he couldn’t open his eyes anymore, he couldn’t speak, and I’d go in and he goes: ‘Today’s not the day.’
“Dr. Ozeran was by the bed when Jacob took his last breath. He was starting to breathe very calmly and very gently, and then, when he took his last breath, everybody looked at Dr. Ozeran, and he said: ‘Today is the day.’ Dr. Ozeran and Dr. Crouse — I don’t know what I would’ve done without them.”
Jacob Alanis’ grandmother, Cecelia Jones, was also present throughout his fight. Like Jacob’s mother, she was left with a debt of gratitude by the hospital.
“The first day we came in for his labs, I had to leave the room because we knew this journey was not going to be a good one, and I started crying,” Jones said. “And the nurse told me: ‘Just because other people have not made this, you cannot assume that he will pass from this,’ so it gave us hope, right off the bat.”
“We knew he was at the right place,” Alanis said. “We knew he was getting the best kind of care available.”
Following the success of Paint Night, Alanis said she hopes to hold a second one next year to raise to raise more money for the Cancer Center, carrying on with Jacob Alanis’ motto: “Keep fighting, never give up, don’t back down.”