Health & Spirit

Livy Garcia has a rare disease. Her aunt, a Clovis teacher, used a tiger to help her heal

Carmen George, The Fresno Bee on

Published in Health & Fitness

Livy Garcia, 7, loves her aunt's new book, "Tiger Livy."

"It's about me being diagnosed with JM," Livy explained recently.

Livy has juvenile dermatomyositis, a rare autoimmune disease that can be life-threatening. The disease attacked her muscles, causing them to break down. She was diagnosed at age 5.

Her aunt, Erin Garcia, an English teacher at Clovis West High School, wrote "Tiger Livy" to comfort her. It was published earlier this year with donated illustrations from Clovis North High School student Ivreese Tong. Almost all the proceeds from book sales will go to support the Cure JM Foundation.

"Livy plays with her friends, and then I get sick," Livy said of the book at Vivily Vintage & Handmade, a boutique near Fresno High School selling her aunt's story, co-authored by writer Betsy Miller.

"And then I have to go to the doctor. ... I have to take medicine. I get a shot every week on Friday. ... Then I get better and my cheeks are already all the way small again."


Livy gained weight because of a strong steroid she had to take.

"That was kind of hard, huh?" Garcia asked her niece. "Do you think people sometimes didn't treat you the same because you looked a little different?"

"Yeah," Livy responded.

"Did you learn anything from that? If you see someone who looks different, what are you going to do now?"


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