LARRY DAVIS: “LEAD, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY.”
In remembrance of Larry Davis, a true leader in the fight against Mesothelioma.
(July, 2012)Larry Davis was one of the most tireless warriors when it came to advocating for mesothelioma. Diagnosed in 2006, he would soon after dedicate his life to raising awareness, promoting education, and funding research and development in the fight against mesothelioma.
Personifying the gumption of a true soldier, Davis pounded the steps of Washington D.C, talking to every politician who would listen, and some who wouldn’t. He would urge congress to pass legislation banning the use of asbestos, sharing his story and the story of others to demonstrate the pain that this carcinogen causes. He championed innovation in treatment and fought relentlessly to help those affected by asbestos exposure.
Linda Reinstein, President, CEO and co-founder of Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and long-time friend of Davis, recalls their first meeting. Davis said that, at first, he was so bold and brash that she didn’t think she could work with him.
She described him at first as being “all about finding a cure.” He was unrelenting and headstrong, focused on a singular goal with a “take no prisoners” attitude. Over the course of several months, however, Reinstein and Davis began sharing their stories and Davis began to focus on not just finding a cure, but advocating for the ban of asbestos.
Now, just before leaving to attend his funeral in South Florida, Reinstein recalled the immense impact Larry Davis had on her life and the lives of everyone affected by mesothelioma.
“Larry always thought outside of the box. If it wasn’t right, it was wrong. If he had a voice he was going to use it,” Reinstein said. “The words bold, brash and tenacious can sometimes carry a bad meaning. But in our work (Mesothelioma Advocacy), they are a good thing.”
She remembered receiving an email from a “SunglasseLarry” and thinking how out of character it seemed from the brazen style of man she described. He once referred to Reinstein as General Patton, and she didn’t know whether it was a compliment or not. She would later learn that it, in fact, was a compliment, as she began to understand the value of his tenacious approach to advocacy.
He would often use the phrase “Lead, or get out of the way,” and Reinstein says that is exactly what he did.
Davis’s story began similar to others. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma and given roughly six months to live. Instead of undergoing traditional chemotherapy and surgery, he worked with doctors that took on a more radical approach to treatment. He sought out immunotherapy and underwent progressive tumor removal surgery. Davis also adopted a holistic method of treatment, staying healthy and keeping a positive attitude. He lived six years after diagnosis; blazing a trail for others advocating for asbestos related disease.
Davis, a longtime runner with 18 marathons under his belt, organized South Florida Miles for Meso 8k Run and 4k Tribute Walk, a charity run that raised funds for Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. He coupled the fundraiser with a symposium to facilitate a forum for friends, physicians and advocates to spread awareness and elicit a dialogue on mesothelioma and the harm of asbestos exposure. He encouraged the advancement of new types of treatment, focusing on immune therapy as opposed to traditional chemotherapy.
“He (Davis) thought outside the box,” said Reinstein. “He wanted his doctors to think outside the box, too.”
Linda Reinstein’s husband, Alan Reinstein, was diagnosed with Mesothelioma in 2003. Her personal experience led Reinstein to fully grasp the devastating effects asbestos had on the lives of countless others. She co-founded the ADAO in 2004 and has become a resounding political voice for justice and change. Reinstein said she now believes that Alan and Larry are together now, and watching and supporting the continued efforts to ban asbestos and find a cure.
Davis received the 2012 Alan Reinstein Memorial Award for his commitment to education, advocacy and support to countless patients and families. His brother, Dr. David Davis, accepted the award on his behalf.
Larry is survived by his loving wife, Carol, and daughter, Courtney. Funeral services will be held tomorrow in South Florida. Larry Davis’s family continues their commitment to the fight against mesothelioma.
If you would like to give in Larry Davis’s honor, the following are three organizations that were most dear to his heart.
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, visit www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org/donate
The Larry Davis Scholarship, visit www.runningexpo.com
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s Larry Davis Mesothelioma Immunotherapy Research Grant, visit www.curemeso.org.
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