Home > Uncategorized > Larry Davis waged relentless race for mesothelioma cure Pompano Beach runner raised thousands for medical research in fight against deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure

Larry Davis waged relentless race for mesothelioma cure Pompano Beach runner raised thousands for medical research in fight against deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure

Sun Sentinel full article here

By Craig Davis, Staff Writer

6:34 p.m. EDT, July 5, 2012

The emails always concluded with: “Believe in a Cure – believe in yourself.”

It was through unyielding belief that the most determined runner I’ve ever known pushed back the inevitable finish line beyond all measure of medical probability.

Doctors gave Larry Davis six months when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. That was six years ago this week, and countless miles until the aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos finally overtook him Monday. He was 67.

Along the way, the Pompano Beach resident raised nearly $80,000 toward medical research for an elusive cure through the Miles For Meso 8K Race in Boca Raton. And he took the fight for a complete ban of asbestos in the United States to Washington and everywhere he could find a forum, often at races he competed in throughout the country.

That indomitable spirit always came through in the emails. Such as the one in June 2011 when Davis detailed plans to compete in a Father’s Day triathlon with his daughter Courtney Davis near Raleigh, N.C. He was coming off a recent hospital stay and facing abdominal surgery later in the month.

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“It is going to be a fantastic weekend and a great way to get in shape for major surgery,” he wrote. “Well, I am off for a 15-mile bike ride.”

Davis and Courtney completed the Three Little Pigs Triathlon together before he underwent surgery for the fifth time since his diagnosis.

“The bike that I had for him was really holding him back, so I gave him my bike because it was lighter a couple miles into the bike portion. I don’t know if I should have done that because he was kicking my butt on the run at the end,” Courtney said.

Throughout the ordeal of his illness, Davis trained and ran in numerous road races, from 5K to marathons, with wife Carol. An eight-time finisher in the Boston Marathon (personal best of 2:56), he accompanied her to Boston one last time in April to share the experience while she ran the race.

“I think that spirit of his is what kept him going for so long,” Carol Davis said.

Mesothelioma, which claimed celebrities Merlin OlsenSteve McQueen and Warren Zevon, is a diabolical disease. Typically, patients survive six to 18 months after diagnosis, and only 7 percent Davis’ age last five years, according to a study.

Davis knew what he was up against — his father was also a meso victim. He faced his illness defiantly and on his own terms, shunning traditional treatments for a more holistic approach.

Most important, he kept running, 20 to 25 miles a week.

“I still believe that’s helped me as much as anything,” Davis told me in a 2010 interview. “What you get out of running is more than cardiovascular. It’s a whole mind-body connection. It helps build the immune system, and that’s key in fighting any disease. It’s not a cure, but it makes you stronger.”

In addition to the Miles For Meso race in February, Davis’ legacy will be a scholarship that has been established in his name through the Runner’s Edge Foundation. It will be awarded annually to a high school senior from Broward or Palm Beach counties devoted to running and community service.

“He was an inspiration to us all. He was a real road warrior, and he showed it in the latter stages of his life when he was struggling with the cancer,” said Tony Frost, a close friend and fellow member of the Boca Raton Road Runners. “We’ll never forget how he fought.”

Davis was outraged at our politicians for lack of action toward a complete ban of asbestos even as numerous other countries have done so, which he attributed to “greed and politics.” And he was frustrated with lack of progress in treating the disease.

So he kept running and believing that a cure is just around the corner, if not for him then for those following in his tracks.

Services for Larry Davis are noon Friday at Kraeer Funeral Home, 200 N. Federal Highway, Pompano Beach.

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