By: Nick DiMarco – WMAR Baltimore – ABC2News.com
Judy Davanzo was on the cusp of 40 with a newborn son when she was once again called back to the front lines.
She would once again have to fight for her life. Only this time, the enemy was advancing from her chest, into her liver.
“As of right now, I’ve beaten my odds,” Davanzo said. “I’m here on the sheer of power of just wanting to be here.”
“They have called me an anomaly,” she continued. “They’re not really sure how or why I’m here.”
It’s rare to relapse after 10.5 years of beating a Stage 2 cancer diagnosis. Doctors gave her 16 to 24 months if she underwent chemotherapy. She was given six to eight months after discontinuing treatment because “it was too much for me.”
That was 2012.
“At stage 2, I knew I was going to get out of it,” Davanzo said. “I could see the end. At stage 4, I’m going to get out of it in a different way.”
She says she’s living on “borrowed time.” But she’s going above and beyond and making the best out of every minute – doing what she can to ease the suffering of not only cancer patients, but their caretakers.
“I want to show my kids that you can make the best out of a bad situation,” she said. “I decided to go a little bit further.”
Davanzo is the president and founder of CaringOn , a non-profit that honors a cancer fighter’s caregiver .
“Those caregivers don’t get a break at all, I feel,” she said. “For men, I also think it’s harder to ask for help.”
She nods to her husband Drew Davanzo. The two were married in 1998, had their first baby in 2000 and then, in the couple’s early 30s “Bam! Cancer.”
“He had to do everything,” Davanzo said. “He had to take care of the baby and take care of me.”
CaringOn collects donations for people like Drew Davanzo – those selfless individuals who, Davanzo said, can sometimes feel guilty for taking personal time.
The donations pay for the gifts of free time – just a few hours for themselves.
“Men like to go play golf or have dinner with the guys,” Davanzo said. “This gives a patient the chance to give back. We’ve had people just go to a hotel to sleep. There’s no laundry. There are no dishes to do.
“The patients feel illuminated because we don’t get a chance to do anything for our caregivers,” she continued. “The caregivers feel guilty doing anything for themselves or using their income… to take away from that fund that they might need to do trials or medical care.”
CaringOn will be carried on by Drew, and the couple’s children Reese, 15, and Trace, who is now 9. The two children are now co-captains of the family’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure team, which is currently No. 1 in fund-raising for teams.
Help make a difference. Register for the 2015 Komen race or donate here .
Trace said he participates in the race “for all the people with breast cancer, and especially my mom.” He said the race is an opportunity to “show how you care for others.”
Reese’s job is spreading the word to her classmates at Notre Dame Prep.
She’s gotten many of her friends to join the team. Each year they have a big sleepover the night before the race. “One year, we stayed at the Embassy Suites. It was a bunch of the girls on the team, probably 20. It was good team bonding. We stayed up half the night and talked about what we were going to do and how we were going to do our hair.”
Drew added, “through the years it’s morphed into different things, but it’s a good opportunity to get the family together – both our nucleus and our friends and our neighbors.”
Judy said the Susan G. Komen Foundation has been helpful in her journey, specifically by providing reliable information.
Judy Davanzo’s Komen connection
“When you’re out there looking for answers and you want a reliable source, Komen has been a good place to go to and know you’re getting the right information and finding the right doctors,” she said.
The couple celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary in September.
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