‘It can’t always be somebody else’

MHA and former RNC constable takes cancer diagnosis in stride

Danette Dooley danette@nl.rogers.com
Published on June 4, 2011
MHA Paul Davis in his garden in Conception Bay South. — Photo by Danette Dooley/ Special to The Telegram

MHA Paul Davis is battling cancer.

The member for the district of Topsail has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

During an interview at his home in Conception Bay South on Wednesday, Davis said he’s speaking out to clear up “misinformation” that’s already circulating about his illness.

“People have heard different versions of what the actual facts are and I want to make sure that it’s the facts that are known,” he said.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that help fight infection.

Davis’s symptoms began in April when he went to St. Clare’s emergency department with increasing pain and discomfort.

A surgeon removed his enlarged appendix. Biopsies of the organ led to the cancer diagnosis.

His treatments include several cycles of chemotherapy, which he started earlier this week.

The treatments will likely run until Christmas. Until then, he says, he’s unable to make public appearances because of a weakened immune system.

“There will be times when I’ll be very susceptible to colds and those types of things. I have to be careful all the time, but, during those times, I have to be really careful and have as little contact as possible with people.”

During the interview, Davis talked about how he was missing Tim Hortons Camp Day. On June 1, coffee proceeds were donated to the Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation. As in previous years, he had volunteered to serve customers at a local Tim’s.

While he wasn’t pouring java and won’t be out and about for about six months, Davis will continue to work from home.

“I’ll have good days and not so good days. But with a laptop, and a BlackBerry and a cellphone, and a full-time constituency assistant at the office, I’ll continue to carry out my functions and responsibilities as an MHA.”

Davis is confident in his treatment plan. The surgeon made the right decision to remove his appendix, he said.

He has faith in his hematologist and other health professionals responsible for his care.

“It was very obvious to me from the very start that everybody knew what they were doing. And that was important to me. … And I learned that the time frame to see a hematologist (about two weeks) was relatively short compared to some other provinces,” he said.

A retired police officer and former Police Officer of the Year, Davis is best known for his former role as RNC media relations officer.

He also served for nine years as a councillor in Conception Bay South, serving on two occasions as the town’s deputy mayor.

He retired from the constabulary in 2010 and was elected MHA for the district of Topsail in March 2010.

A provincial election is just months away.

Davis has already won the PC nomination for his district. He’s still very much in the race, he says.

While he won’t be knocking on doors or attending rallies as he did last year, he has a team in place to help him with his re-election campaign.

Several MHAs have already offered to campaign on his behalf, he says.

Davis and his wife Cheryl founded the Avalon Chapter of the Motorcycle Ride for Dad in 2006 — an event to help fight prostate cancer.

Since his diagnosis, he says, several cancer survivors have offered moral support, as have his government colleagues and members of the policing community.

NHL greats Mario Lemieux and Saku Koivu have both beaten non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Davis says he’ll beat it, too.

“The treatments can be rough, but Cheryl and I are ready for it. We’re taking a ‘bring it on’ approach to this. And, as my father-in-law put it, ‘it can’t always be somebody else.’”