Michael Davis is a cancer survivor and this is his story of powering through.
How did you deal with your cancer and what would you say to others dealing with similar things?
I was first diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in March of 2017. After completing cycles of ABVD chemotherapy, I was diagnosed with refractory Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in January of 2018.
To be honest, the initial diagnosis came as a complete shock. I was 38 years old at the time and living a healthy life. I was active in sports and working hard at my job. One morning I noticed a lump under my left armpit. I saw a doctor about it when it didn’t go away and became painful. After a biopsy of the lymph nodes under my left armpit came back positive for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, my life changed instantly. I had many questions, the most pressing of which was, “how did this happen?” Unfortunately, unlike other cancers such as skin or lung cancer, which can be traced back to things like excessive exposure to the sun or smoking cigarettes, the reason people get Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is unknown. This was something that I had to simply accept and move forward with. I have a wife and a family, so I chose to meet my cancer with the attitude that I was stronger, and that there was no other choice but to fight it and overcome.
Have you ever had any previous experiences with cancer?
My only experience with cancer was watching my grandmother go through it. I was 12 years old when she passed away from cancer, and I remember her battle in bits and pieces only. I remember her hair falling out and her lack of energy when we would have visited. She always remained happy though, so at the time I didn’t fully understand just how severe a toll cancer had taken. It was very sad when she passed away, but she was also in her 80’s, and she had lived a full life. I had lots of good memories of her to remember, so the brief period when she was fighting her cancer became something I rarely recalled.
After I had my diagnosis and started my chemotherapy treatments, I often thought of my grandmother, with a newfound love and greater appreciation, now having a better understanding of what it was she had gone through all those years ago.
What is your life story?
I was born and raised in Southern California and I am the oldest of 4 siblings. I attended private schools all my life and went to college, studying to be an artist. I have always loved drawing and being creative, so this was something I had dreams of doing professionally. I have also always loved being active. I played soccer for many years as a youth before switching to ice hockey, which I still play to this day. Growing up near the beach I also developed a love for the ocean and began surfing when I was in high school. This is something I still do to this day and don’t ever plan on stopping.
I have worked as an artist now for over 20 years and have been employed at video games companies, animations studios, and other creative companies. I even won an Emmy award for my work as a storyboard artist. What an honor that was!
I am now 40 years old. I am happily married and have five children. It’s a large family and can get crazy sometimes, but I would not have it any other way. Deep down, I am still a big kid too, so I love spending time with my kids, building things, or just relaxing and watching movies with them. We also have one dog. Her name is Sadie.
What would you say to something going through a similar experience?
I would say to anyone dealing with cancer that it is best to take it head on with determination, will, and a positive attitude. I would also say to approach cancer as an opportunity to find out and explore who you really are as a person on a much deeper level. For me, cancer was a huge change in perspective with regard to what I thought was important and what I valued most in my life. It also taught me just how strong I am and how far my body could go.
How do you inspire others?
I would hope to inspire others to accept their differences and be unique. After I was diagnosed with refractory stage 4 cancer, I decided to chronicle my journey with cancer on Instagram. At first, I did it as a way for my personal friends and family to be able to keep up with my life and see what was going on, but as I continued to post I saw more and more people beginning to follow me. That was when I realized I had a much bigger opportunity to speak to others who may be going through something similar, and that, how I approached my own cancer could be a positive thing for others to see. I’ve always been a happy and positive individual, so in every single one of my posts, I remained positive and upbeat, despite it being some of the most difficult times in my life. And you know what? I got more messages from people telling me how much they loved reading my posts, because they were so positive, and that they too were inspired to be positive themselves. I think that was the most rewarding thing for me; to know that what I was doing was making a difference, in some small way, to other people in the world.
What is your outlook on life?
I like to think that each day is a blessing, especially now. I believe that there is more good in the world than evil and I believe in trying to do as little harm as possible. I do my best to treat others as I would want to be treated.
Cancer has given me a greater appreciation for life and all that it has to offer. I am thankful that I was able to overcome this disease and have a second chance to live and be the best person I can, each day.
The interview took place on 9/7/18
Let’s inspire the world – Wasilly