Janna Pugh looks out on the baseball diamond and sees a miracle. Her son Davis assumes his position on the pitcher’s mound. Here comes the stance, the grip, the pitch. You can tell he loves the game. Watching him play, Janna can’t help but think about how Davis’ life – and the lives of the entire Pugh family – could have been so different.
The truth is, Davis doesn’t completely remember the curveball thrown his way so early in life.
In late May 2002, Davis started breaking out in hives and had some swelling on the left side of his face. Doctors treated him for an allergic reaction. The swelling improved, but as his Papa leaned in for a kiss one day, he felt a gumball-sized knot in Davis’ left cheek. The Pughs immediately took Davis to his pediatrician. The pediatrician contacted an ear, nose and throat specialist who ordered a CT scan before seeing Davis.
The CT scan showed a soft tissue tumor. Doctors took a biopsy and on June 5, 2002 – at the young age of 21 months – Davis was diagnosed was rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer. The Pugh family was devastated.
The next year of young Davis’ life revolved around clinics and hospital visits. He went through a 52-week chemotherapy protocol at then-Pitt County Memorial Hospital. He was inpatient every three weeks for an overnight treatment. About halfway through treatment, the Pugh family moved to Boston so Davis could receive a special type of proton radiation therapy that was available at Massachusetts General Hospital. They were in Boston for two-and-a-half months before returning to Greenville to finish treatment.
On Aug. 22, 2003 Davis was declared in remission. A huge weight was lifted off the shoulders of the Pugh family. They could breathe a little easier. But the real celebration came five years later, when Davis was officially declared cancer free.