As cancer survivor, Davies shares positive approach
MARPLE TWP. >> If anyone has an excuse not to seek out hospitals, it’s Charlie Davies.
The Philadelphia Union forward has spent more time in medical settings than most ever will. In the last year, his twin newborns, Rhys and Dakota, spent three months under constant observation after being born premature. While he and wife, Nina, navigated that, Davies was diagnosed in late April with liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer that precipitated several months of treatment.
Yet there Davies was Tuesday
morning, sporting his relentless smile and Union polo, gliding between visits with patients at CrozerKeystone at Broomall.
Along with teammates Chris Pontius and Keegan Rosenberry, Davies spent more than an hour visiting the outpatient oncology ward, signing autographs, posing for pictures and generally brightening people’s days.
“This is something that truly brings joy to me, to inspire people, to give people hope, to take their daily pain away from them, to keep their mind off of chemotherapy and feeling nauseous, to take their mind off some of the troubles that they’re going through on a daily basis,” Davies said. “The one thing I’ve learned is that you can really change somebody’s outlook on life with a visit, and it’s something that truly means a lot to me, to help people and put a smile on somebody’s face…
“To make a difference like that, it’s something that I live for.”
It wasn’t long ago that Davies was on the other side of that exchange. He suffered a groin injury in an April 27 game while playing with the New England Revolution, and a routine scan uncovered the tumor, a malignant growth of fat cells. By late July, he’d been declared cancer-free, making his return to the Revs July 31. Several days later, he was traded to the Union, reuniting with a close network of friends that includes Pontius, Maurice Edu and Alejandro Bedoya.
His visits with patients Tuesday aren’t about Davies’ past. Though it’s implicit in the optimism of his worldview, his time is spent being fully there for the person in front of him. When his history with the disease, like in one interaction with a patient Tuesday, comes up, Davies readily discusses his experience — the “open book” that is his life, as he calls it — in hope that it provides comfort.
The biggest lesson Davies gleans from his experience is the importance of a positive outlook. It was a fortuitous injury, after all, that helped doctors catch his cancer early and ease his course of treatment. The strength of his children, now seven months old, and his wife helped Davies find the resilience to fight his disease. Davies also spent months rehabbing from a car accident in 2009 in which a fellow passenger was killed, a brush with death that reinforces his appreciation for the many blessings bestowed on him.
It’s something that his teammates echo. Pontius, for instance, watched his father battle leukemia while Pontius was in high school. Pontius draws inspiration from his dad, in remission for 14 years after a bone marrow transplant, and it’s why Pontius is a frequent visitor to hospitals, both this season with the Union and in his tenure with D.C. United.
“Being optimistic and approaching it in a positive manner is the best way to go about it,” Pontius said. “I think that about all problems in life, so to see these people and knowing that they’re going through tough days but still positive and approaching it in the right way, it puts a different meaning on things.”
Davies leaned on his positivity throughout his and his children’s health ordeals. And that’s what he’s hoping to convey to patients.
“I think I’ve always felt like my life is open to everyone, and any way I can inspire or help anyone get through a difficult time is what I plan to do and hope to do,” Davies said. “Something like that, I think I can relate to a lot of patients in difficult times. …
“In every situation, it could always be worse. I know it’s tough to think that way in certain times, but if they know that you can stay positive and it’ll make things easier to get through difficult situations and times, then it’ll be better for them in the long run. That’s my goal is to always show them that positivity is strong and will make things easier for them in the long run.”
Philadelphia Union forward Charlie Davies, left, poses with Crozer-Keystone Broomall employee Dana Miele and Union teammates Keegan Rosenberry, second from right, and Chris Pontius during a visit Tuesday to the CrozerKeystone’s outpatient oncology center.