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B-cell lymphoma patient gets back into the swing of life

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Eddy Davis CW.JPGBy Joey Tran, MD Anderson Staff Writer

Eddy Davis would have enjoyed teaching golf no matter what. But he has an appreciation for life, and health, that few pros can understand.

Since becoming a golf professional in 1994, Eddy Davis has excelled as a published golf illustrator and tournament calligrapher, an avid golfer who considers himself the "resident artist" at the Jimmy Clay-Roy Kizer Golf Complex in Austin, Texas.

Fear and questions
When he faced a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin B-cell lymphoma in 2003, he feared the unknown and had thousands of questions for his doctors. His golfing buddies. His wife. And himself.

But no one ever questioned the courage and determination that continues to prove the experts wrong.

Davis soon started extensive cycles of radiation, followed by chemotherapy. It was 2003. His second child had just been born; he and his wife also had a five-year-old.

In 2009, the cancer cells had started spreading toward Davis' brain. His oncologist in Austin felt that he had exhausted his options there and that his only chance would be to seek the assistance of specialists at MD Anderson.

After treatment with high-dose chemotherapy, the doctors at MD Anderson decided that Davis' only option was a stem cell transplant. Davis was assigned to Borje Andersson, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy.

It was successful.

"I was driven to live a life that I never expected," Davis recalls. "I wasn't supposed to see 41 when I was diagnosed at age 40. And I certainly wasn't supposed to see 46. And it was unheard of that I'm even seeing 50. But here I am."

Care and compassion combat cancer

Davis attributes his survival to the support of not only his family and the golf community, but also to all the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson who were there for him.

Negativities and depression that come with a cancer diagnosis are mentally and physically challenging. Davis remembers reaching a point when he wanted to give up and let cancer do its thing. An inpatient nurse told him after one of the lengthy self-pity moments: "Son, you'll have to cowboy up. Stay positive and look forward to what's next, not just cancer treatment ... your wife and children."

Davis believes several factors helped him beat cancer: sound nutrition, frequent exercise, friendship, a solid medical team and the love of the people around him.

"In my life, I've been through peaks and valleys," Davis says. "From being in the lowest part of my life, to almost breaths away from death, to getting out on the golf course, to seeing my child taking his first steps and being able to encourage other cancer patients - that would be the epitome of life. This is the greatest situation I can ever have."

After cancer, a changed man

Prior to the diagnosis, his career was first. "I was self-centered," he says.

During the treatment, his career was important, but not fulfilling. After the treatment and recovery, he has come to realize that the people he worked with are some of the most beautiful people he knows.

"I was fortunate to have the support of my family and the local golf community," Davis says. "I have a newfound love for my family, my profession and the people I serve. I am a public servant who has come to cherish the beauty and power of the human spirit."

Continuing to manage, teach and illustrate golf, Davis is playing the best game of his life. He has been working since his stem cell transplant, as his health continues to improve and his physical and mental achievements seem to be progressing nicely.

"Sometimes there isn't anything you can do, but good faith and support from the people around you can really have a tremendous effect on any adversity, whether it is cancer or any other challenge that you might face," Davis says.

Read more about Davis and much more in the spring issue of Conquest magazine.

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