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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Community aids local woman

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tona Nicoson and Tracey Sutton box items for the benefit auction for Laura Davis of Sikeston.
SIKESTON -- Laura Davis said she has no choice -- she has to stay positive. The 22-year-old Sikeston mother and wife is in stage 3 of melanoma, or skin cancer. She's currently undergoing treatment at the University of Missouri's Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia.

As if that weren't enough, Davis and her husband, Ryan, were just married in May. Together they have a 9-month-old daughter, Kendall.

Davis was diagnosed with melanoma in August after she noticed a small mole the size of a pencil eraser on her leg.

"It kept changing. It started as a freckle and then it raised and started to look like a mole and had a red outline to it," Davis said.

After visiting her family physician, Davis was sent to a local hospital, where she underwent surgery to remove the mole and four of five layers of skin. Davis was then sent to Columbia and underwent two more surgeries. The first surgery was conducted to examine deeper and further out around the mole. A lymph node was also tested and turned out positive for cancer. In the next surgery, doctors removed 16 lymph nodes -- three of which tested positive for cancer.

On Oct. 31 Davis began a treatment called immunotherapy. It requires her to be connected to an IV five days a week for four consecutive weeks. Every day for 20 minutes, she is given treatment through the IV.

"I've been doing pretty good up here," Davis said from Columbia. "There are a lot of possible side effects, and I haven't really been experiencing them, and other than the treatment, I've been feeling pretty good."

Davis does get to come home on weekends to spend time with her daughter and husband, she said.

"It's hard to stay positive when they tell you different things you could go through, and I just have to stay positive -- and I pray everyday," Davis said about her situation.

Davis is the daughter of Carl and Glenda Hester of Dexter, and her husband is the son of Ken and Rosemary Latham and Rick and Lori Davis of Sikeston.

Once the first four weeks of treatment are up at the end of the month, Davis will have to administer shots three times a week for 11 months to complete a full year of treatment.

"She's staying positive," said Rosemary Latham about her daughter-in-law. "She's so young. Most married couples are still honeymooning, and they've gone through so much."

Davis' husband doesn't have time off because he hasn't been working at his job long enough, and he doesn't have insurance yet, Latham said.

"It's been hard on Ryan and not getting to be with her every day. He works nights and he comes home at 7:30 a.m. He spends some time with Kendall and then goes to bed. When he gets up, he spends more time with Kendall and goes back to work," Latham said about her 20-year-old son.

Latham and Kendall's other great-grandmothers take turns during the week helping care for Kendall. Davis' mother has been staying with her in Columbia.

"Cancer doesn't just affect the person. It affects the whole family," Latham said.

And not helping matters are the extremely expensive medical bills. Davis' prescription medication costs $700 a week. Her insurance doesn't cover the medicine, and she's been denied Medicaid, her mother-in-law said.

"She has tried working with her insurance, but nothing's helped," Latham said. "Any free time she's had, she's worked on trying to get some kind of financial aid. She applied for a University of Missouri financial grant and was denied. She's tried everything."

Because of the outstanding expenses, Latham's co-workers, along with family and friends of the couple, organized a yard sale earlier this month at the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo grounds. They raised about $3,600.

"I was shocked by the sale," Latham said. "I thought we'd raise $500 or $1,000 -- but that will help buy five or six weeks of her medicine."

Latham praised Sikeston and the surrounding community for their generosity. "You never know how good a town is like the city of Sikeston. I know that when somebody's hurting, everyone here is always pulling together. I realized so many good people are in this town and the surrounding towns," Latham said.

A benefit auction is also being planned for Dec. 2 in the Stafford Center at Tanner Street Church of God in Sikeston.

"We're really thankful for everyone who's done things for us," Davis said. "Ryan and I and Kendall are just starting out, and it's good for us to have the community come together."

Meanwhile, Davis insisted she must stay positive. The accounting major has already enrolled in classes for the spring semester at Southeast Missouri State University.

And like her daughter-in-law, Latham said she, too, remains positive. She said: "I really believe we're going to fight this."