By EDDF Founder Nia Davis
Before my Dad was diagnosed with sarcoma, a form of cancer, he was an ordinary dad. He was hardworking and loved to play basketball. When we found out that he had cancer, it was a shock, because my dad was healthy and he didn’t smoke or drink. It all started with a small lump on his chest a bruise we thought he did at work. One day, he noticed the lump had grown, so we took him to the doctor who referred us to specialists. The specialist then gave us the news that the lump was actually sarcoma.
During his first round, my Dad had to go through radiation and then surgery. Handling the radiation was hard on him. It would make him sleepy all the time. Since he was working while going through radiation, he was just so tired that he didn’t want do anything but sleep when he got home. I hated to see him tired because that wasn’t the father I knew. He always put on a brave face for me, but I knew it was hard on him.
When it was time for the surgery, I knew my Dad was scared, and I was scared for him. The surgery was more than eight hours and I wanted to be there for him, but he wanted me to go to school. After school was over, I waited in the waiting room with my mommy until he was out of surgery. When they brought him to his hospital room, I just wanted to break down in tears. Seeing him lying in the hospital bed not able to do anything was overwhelming for me. When he was finally released from the hospital, it was my mom and my job to make sure he followed the doctor’s orders. My mom took care of his medications, and I helped him around the house. While he was recovering, we didn’t go out much and my Dad hated being stuck in the house for 12 weeks.
Life after the surgery never went back to normal. My Dad had follow up visits every week to make sure the cancer didn’t come back. When his visits went to every three months, we thought things were starting to get back to normal; but, I never felt my Dad went back to his normal self. We had to be more cautious about his diet, exercise, and any new changes to his body. It is hard to live with the fear of waiting for something to happen. Even though he was now back at work, he did have side effects from his treatment. His strength was weakened which put pressure on his sciatic nerve. It caused him back pain, and he couldn’t walk straight. We took him to get a massage, and he enjoyed it; but, the next day he was back in pain. Then we took him to a chiropractor. He didn’t enjoy it, but it helped straighten his back so he was no longer in pain.
The hardest thing for me to hear from my father was that the cancer was back. I didn’t want to believe it; and I broke down in tears from the weight of everything. I just wanted everything to be fine, and I didn’t want my dad to go back through this again. Since it was now in his lungs, the doctors told my Dad that he would need to do chemo for this round. He had to have a minor surgery to put a port inside him to receive his treatment. Once treatment started, I knew this time would be different even though my parents told me not to worry. My Dad took a leave from work and was always tired and never hungry. His favorite foods no longer tasted the same, and he was always sick after treatment. My job was to make sure he ate while my Mom was at work and help him when he asked for it.
During this time, I literally was depressed. I stopped hanging out with friends. I stayed in the house locked away in my room. I didn’t want to be away from my parents. But, this wasn’t helping since now my Dad was worried about me.
On October 8, 2011, my Dad ran out of time in his sarcoma fight. There weren’t any other treatment options once the chemo wasn’t working. It would have been very easy for me to give up; but in my helplessness, I knew I had to help other sarcoma patients to ensure there were more options. It was this desire that pushed me to create the Eric D. Davis Sarcoma Foundation with the help of my Mom. Through the foundation, we provide financial grants to sarcoma patients seeking treatment. We also work to spread awareness for this ‘forgotten cancer,’ and we work to raise funds for an adult sarcoma research grant. Nothing will ever replace the pain I have of not physically having my Dad here. But, I know that he is proud of what we are trying to accomplish in his honor through my foundation. I will forever be changed by this experience, but it is a change for the better.