Venus Davis was driving to her job at Verizon back in 2000 when she felt a pain in her back.
Being three months pregnant and having suffered a previous miscarriage, she didn’t take any chances.
Davis went to a hospital emergency room, then two days later to her obstetrician/gynecologist. She was told of a possible uterine cancer diagnosis and advised to end her pregnancy.
“I said no,” she recalled. “That wasn’t an option for me. I’m sorry. You’re not my God. If he wants her, he’ll take her.”
Davis, then living in Virginia, spent the final six months of her pregnancy on bed rest. She had little pain and didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation. She eventually gave birth to a healthy girl named Destiny.
The new mother was in for a surprise. She learned she still had a cancerous tumor in her uterus.
“They said, ‘Do you want to do the tumor now or do you want to come back?’” she remembered hospital staff asking her. “That’s how I found out. I wasn’t told until after the birth. It was the weirdest thing ever.”
So, 90 minutes after giving birth, she was on the operating table, having the tumor removed.
Fast forward to 2012, and the month of May is an exciting one for Davis. Destiny, a fifth-grader at Evangel Christian Academy in Virginia, will turn 11 on Tuesday.
On Friday, Davis will serve as an escort at CTCA’s annual Celebrate Life event, when 54 five-year cancer survivors will be honored.
And next Sunday, May 20, will mark Davis’ 11-year anniversary in remission.
“I’m so excited. It’s very, very exciting,” she said.
Also, Davis will celebrate Mother’s Day this year by joining more than 100 fellow employees of Cancer Treatment Centers of America at the 22nd annual Susan G. Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure.
Davis, 40, of Wynnefield, has been a security officer for the last six months at CTCA, located at 1331 E. Wyoming Ave.
The cancer center has been involved with the Komen event for the last three years, and this year is serving as the “Champion Sponsor of the Promise.” As a prime sponsor, the center provides money, race-day volunteers and year-round breast cancer programs.
Sunday’s weather is expected to be beautiful, and an estimated 125,000 people will descend on Eakins Oval and the perimeter of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Participants can choose a 5K run or walk or a one-mile fun walk. New this year is the United Healthcare Dash to Make a Difference for youths ages 3 to 12.
The CTCA team will meet at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. for a continental breakfast, then take a bus to participate in opening ceremonies at 7 a.m. Members will be recognizable in their lime green T-shirts.
In addition to the run and walk, one of the day’s highlights will be some 6,000 breast cancer survivors walking down the art museum’s steps.
CTCA will have a 1970s-themed tent titled the Soul of Philadelphia. It will include afro wigs and a disco ball, along with hope-filled stories of breast cancer survivors.
Davis will walk, not run. She’s recruited her sisters, Nicole Massey and Karen Wright, and a couple of colleagues to participate.
Heather Greaves, of the cancer center’s marketing department, is the team captain. More than 1,000 teams will take part.
“I’m excited to be part of the race,” Davis said. “It’s going to be an awesome experience. Hopefully, I’ll have an opportunity to meet people, talk to them and encourage them to come to our tent.”
Proceeds from the event will be earmarked by Komen for mammograms and breast cancer research and early-detection efforts.
Komen is the nation’s largest private funder of the fight against breast cancer. The Philadelphia affiliate consists of the city, suburbs, six other Pennsylvania counties, all of Delaware and Camden County, N.J.
Davis comes from a family with a long history of cancer. Her Aunt Poochie also had uterine cancer. Three aunts and a grandmother had breast cancer. Three uncles and a cousin had other forms of the disease.
These days, she gets checked at CTCA every six months.
“I’m a big advocate of early detection now,” she said.
Davis is looking forward to continuing her leadership position with CTCA’s Komen team.
“We do a lot here,” she said. “From the day of the race on to next year, we’ll have more time to build our team.”
For more information on the Susan G. Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure, call 215-238-8900 or visit www.race.komenphiladelphia.org
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org