Three decades of remission

Published 10:26 pm Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Editor’s note: This is another in a series of stories leading up to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life on May 18.

What seemed like just the flu resulted in Tammy Davis being admitted to a hospital in New York City at the age of 13 for four months in a semi-coma.

Davis, 51, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia after two weeks of laying at home and feeling sick.

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“I just remember laying there. I didn’t want to fail seventh grade. I got myself dressed and went to my homeroom. I thought I was going to die,” Davis said. “Mr. Bud saw that something was terribly wrong. All of the East Hampton Middle School teachers, Mr. Bud, Mr. Parks and others, would pick me up from home and take me to the doctors.”

Tammy Davis at the age of 21, just five years into remission. (submitted photo)

Davis, a Long Island native, was admitted to the hospital because they knew something was wrong with her blood. After being transferred to a hospital in New York City, they finally gave Davis the diagnosis, and soon after she fell into a semi-coma.

“When I woke up, I had realized what happened,” Davis said. “I had to learn how to walk again, and I went through three years of chemotherapy. It took time, and I was determined afterward that I would venture out to do whatever I wanted to do.”

Davis tried her hand at modeling and acting, and she even worked as a flight attendant for 13 years.

“I decided nothing would stop me, because God chose to save me,” Davis said. “I did everything and I worked hard to excel at everything.”

Having cancer and being a survivor shaped her life, but being close to death gave her a different perspective.

“I don’t let the little things bother me that much. I don’t let negativity define me,” Davis said. “I was more sympathetic towards people and their feelings. When I see someone that I know that’s lost their hair and battled cancer, I always tell them to hang in there, because you never know. I give them encouragement and give them my story.”

Davis’ life landed here in Suffolk, and she currently works at the Suffolk Hampton Inn. Her current job involved her in Relay for Life, and she has been able to share her story on a larger scale.

Tammy Davis, shown at 51, is a survivor of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She participates with Suffolk’s Relay for Life group. (Submitted photo)

“I told Tara Asare my story and after that, I joined the team and spoke at a dinner,” Davis said, referring to the community manager for the American Cancer Society. “My first time telling my story I will never forget. It was at the Planters Club, and I got to talk about my story to survivors and caregivers. It was empowering for me. From that point on, I wanted to tell my story. If I made a difference, my job was done.”

Davis believes that Relay for Life would have been a blessing when she was going through her battle with cancer, because they provide more than just fundraising for cancer research.

“People like Tara, who help families be a part of the survivor’s life, raise money and bring awareness. Everything that Relay for Life stands for, I didn’t get that as a child. These are the people behind the scenes that you never really see,” Davis said.

The 2018 Relay for Life will be held from 6 p.m. to midnight May 18 at Nansemond River High School. Visit www.relayforlife.org/suffolkva for more information.