The recent news of former D.C. United (and current New England Revolution) forward Charlie Davies' diagnosis of liposarcoma, a rare cancer of deep tissue fat cells, that the world learned about Saturday afternoon (and will learn more about Sunday on Fox Sports) was met with a mixture of several feelings in my house. Among those were the obvious ones:
- Shock. Charlie's been through a variety of things in his life that make such a diagnosis even more impactful. He's told (and retold) the story surrounding the car crash in October 2009 (before a United States World Cup Qualifier with Costa Rica) that killed a passenger and effectively put an end to a promising international career, one where he had scored three goals for the Yanks over that summer: against Egypt in the Confederations Cup, against Grenada in the Gold Cup, and against Mexico, at Estadio Azteca, during qualifiers.
- Irrational umbrage. This is a guy who came back to America at 25 with a lot left to play for, scored a bunch of goals for United, including two in his first game back, gave an emotional post-game interview, and then took a benching from Ben Olsen almost as an affront six months later before his return to Sochaux at the end of the 2011 season. He has since walked back his words on Olsen, and admitted his lack of form was a distraction to him.
- Perseverance. Davies went to Denmark for a year of club football before returning in 2013 to play with the Revs. Closer to his New Hampshire birthplace, Davies has put together decent numbers, with 14 goals in 63 games (41 starts), and helped take the Revs to the 2014 MLS Cup Final against the LA Galaxy.
He's even had to experience some of those feelings again, while battling injury this season, while witnessing his wife Nina deliver twin sons three months premature. It's reasonable to feel emotional when hearing this news, when wondering when, at some point, Davies will catch a break. But honestly I don't think he, or anyone else should sweat it.
I don't mean to belittle Davies' current health issues, as I've seen a lot of those feelings play out in my family over the last few years. Having seen my wife deal with cancer and what was the initial shock of finding out how to deal with it when you've barely turned 30, it's a surprise to say the least. And seeing my father, who saw his second wife pass from a stroke following years of suffering from Alzheimers, followed by a cancer diagnosis where he saw himself subjected to radiation treatments weeks later, the musing of 'well, Christ, when does it stop?' is natural. I get it. Few people can compound 'cancer' on top of 'loss of loved one,' and when you live several hundred miles away from ANYONE in your support network, the desire to want to talk to anyone, even if it's the usual banal matter on politics or the pets you keep, it becomes your recovery, to the point where the treatments take hold and work. You put your head down and work to overcome it, however you can.
So in seeing cancer go through my family in one end and happy to see it leave out of the other. I know the stories from my father and witnessed the ramifications from my wife, and I'm happy to say that both of them have come out the other side happy (save for my father's hereditary grouchiness), and healthy. As I write this, my wife and I celebrate the coming birth of our first child. It has been a long and painful process to get from cancer patient to expectant mother, but all of us are in a better place than we were before.
I have no doubt Davies is at that place too because on the rare occasion of meeting and talking to him, the number of obstacles he's had to deal with to bring him to the point of successful soccer player and newly minted father have prepared him well in advance.
I have no doubt that cancer, or anything else for that matter, has much of a chance against Charlie Davies.