Mom wants to help others deal with loss

first_imgNow she is trying to use that pain to help other parents. “I realized that this could become what I’m all about – this woman who lost a child to a terrible illness,” she said. “I could do that, or I could be someone who does something about it, someone who uses this experience for good.” – Melissa Evans 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Rahni Davies’ daughter would have been 13 on Jan. 3. Even though her daughter is gone, a mother never stops being a mother, remembering birthdays, thinking about Christmas gifts. The pain has subsided substantially since Willow died of a brain tumor six years ago. The support she received through TrinityKids Care – she was the first mother to enroll when the pediatric hospice program began in 2001 – and at The Gathering Place, a bereavement support program, was crucial, she said. “It’s taken a long time to get back on track, but we were lucky,” the Torrance mom said. “We got to hold our daughter in our arms until her last breath.” Her experience with hospice care, which allows families to care for their dying children at home, was so powerful that Davies changed her career path. She is two years into a master’s program at California State University, Dominguez Hills, studying marriage and family therapy. Davies hopes to work with grieving families, either in a hospice program or in a hospital. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson“I think it helps to know exactly what they are up against,” she said. Initially, the feeling is shock and disbelief, she said. Her daughter was 5 when the family got the news that she had a brain tumor. Like most parents, she moved into a place of frenzy, desperately trying to find an experimental drug, a second, third or fourth opinion. She acknowledges she “fought it tooth and nail,” but finally put Willow in hospice, where the nurses made sure her daughter wasn’t in pain. She and her son received counseling to deal with their pain, too. After a year in a support group talking to other parents who have lost children, “I finally started to see in color again,” she said. “I didn’t even realize that the world had become black and white.” The hope that she could actually get through something like this became a reality – a day at a time. The ordeal consumed her life, but Davies was determined not let it destroy it. last_img read more

Burbank’s new chief uniter

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Pansini, 50, of Shadow Hills, was hired after a nationwide job search and interviews by panels of fire and city officials and residents. “His interim leadership has been incredible,” City Manager Mary Alvord said during the change of command ceremony held Wednesday at Fire Department headquarters. “He won the respect of the entire executive team. I couldn’t be prouder.” Pansini is taking the $150,684-a-year post after serving as interim chief since May, when he replaced former Chief Mike Davis. “He leads by example,” said Capt. Lew Stone, the president of the Burbank Fire Fighters Local 778, the union that represents 120 active firefighters and 80 retirees. “When he was a captain, he was on the roof with his guys cutting the hole. He held the nozzle, pushing the head right into the seat of the fire.” Pansini, a Verdugo Hills High School graduate, didn’t start out as Pansini the firefighter. He was enrolled in pre-veterinarian classes at Pierce College when the Mill Creek Fire broke out in the Angeles National Forest in 1975, and his home in Big Tujunga Canyon was surrounded by fire. Pansini and three friends grabbed garden hoses and managed to save his house. “Tracy grabbed some hoses, and he said, ‘Come on let’s go on the roof. We got on the roof and started putting out some hot spots,” said Tony Varela, 49, a lifelong friend of Pansini’s and an assistant chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department. “I thought he was nuts. I could see Tracy taking a look at that, and saying ‘I can do this. I could be a firefighter.’ “Tracy lived up to every expectation I had of him as a friend. He is truly a doer.” Pansini joined the Burbank Fire Department in November 1979 and has since gone on “too many fires to count.” In the beginning, he said, he was “too stupid to know if they were harrowing” and went on “gut instinct.” In 1981, he became a paramedic firefighter. During a rotation through Providence Saint Joseph’s Medical Center, he said, he recalled helping a man who had walked into a spinning propeller at the Burbank Airport – and survived. “That was incredible,” Pansini said. “That was the worst injury I had ever seen where somebody was still talking and was coherent.” Later, Pansini trained in hazardous materials and responded to fires at the Skunk Works facility, Lockheed Martin’s top-secret lab where the U-2, the SR-71 and the F-117 were built. “Normally what we’re fighting in town is wood, paper, things like that,” Pansini said. “But to go out there and see all these chemicals and processes that were top secret, that were so exotic … We had to go in in special suits and open up the ovens and remove the material that was burning. It was incredible.” In 1992, Pansini became one of a few hundred firefighters from around the country on an elite “Red Card” team, on call to respond to wildfires anywhere in the West. “My goal is to build better relationships,” Pansini said. “Fires don’t just burn on one jurisdiction or on one city’s soil. They run many jurisdictions. Only through working together and collaborating are we going to be successful.” Jason Kandel, (818) 546-3306 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BURBANK – A 26-year veteran of the Burbank Fire Department, Tracy Pansini describes himself as an “in-the-trench guy” who has gone out on “too many fires to count.” That’s why the then-assistant chief had a tough decision to make eight months ago, when he was offered a promotion to interim chief – a step that led to his appointment last week of the 145-member department. “I’d never done the administrative function of the Fire Department,” said Pansini, who becomes the sixth chief since 1935, the year the department became an all-paid force. “I was always a ground-pounder. I’m an in-the-trench guy. I get in the trench, get dirty, roll around and I get the job done like everybody else, regardless of rank.” last_img read more