As cancer sur­vivor, Davies shares pos­i­tive ap­proach

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Matthew DeGe­orge mde­ge­orge@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @sports­doc­tormd on Twit­ter

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.

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