By Steve Blanchard
When middle school algebra teacher Laurietta Davis celebrated the beginning of 2019, she decided against a New Year’s resolution. Instead, she told her family and friends she was simply going to conquer the year ahead.
A few short months later, on April 29, Davis learned that in order to conquer her year, she would have to battle stomach cancer.
“It was terrifying,” said Davis, whose cancer was discovered after she underwent treatment for diverticulitis. “A week after my diagnosis, I was at Moffitt and I met my oncologist, started my treatment and chemotherapy, and by the end of August I had surgery.”
That surgery took 70% of her lower stomach.
“I’ve been left with 30% of my stomach, and I’m OK with that,” said Davis, 61. “As of right now there is no cancer.”
With the rest of her 2019 looking bright, Davis said she’s committed to supporting her family at Moffitt Cancer Center and plans to participate in Miles for Moffitt on Nov. 23. Her team, appropriately dubbed More Than Conquerors, is hoping to surpass its $1,000 fundraising goal.
“I’ve never done anything quite like this before,” Davis said of Miles for Moffitt. “This is new to me and it just felt like something I needed to do. There was no way I was going to let this event go past me without being involved.”
Davis has relied on the generosity of her family, fellow teachers and friends to not only raise money for her team, but to support her during her cancer journey. When she walks the event on Nov. 23, she said she’ll be representing those who have donated, as well as all cancer patients and survivors. She wants to provide hope.
“My advice to anyone who is starting a journey like mine is to first stop and breathe,” she said. “As you begin your journey, you decide that cancer doesn’t define who you are and that it’s not bigger than you.”
Davis plans to return to her classroom of eighth-graders at Hunter’s Creek Middle School in Kissimmee in January. There she’ll meet new faces and learn new names as she gets back into the teaching career she’s loved for more than 30 years.
But as 2020 approaches, she says she already has a new theme prepared for the New Year — it’s one of volunteerism.
“My summers will be spent volunteering at Moffitt,” Davis said. “I have to. The people at Moffitt really care about you all the way from infusion to blood draw to the ones you pass in the hallway that you don’t know what they do. But they all smile. I have never once passed a person who hasn’t smiled.”