What will innovative cancer research look like 20, or even 30, years from now? What will the use of immunotherapy or smart chemotherapy teach us in the coming decades, and where will researchers focus their attention from there?
These are the types of questions that Darla Davies asks, and thanks to a generous gift of support to UVA Cancer Center, the Albemarle County, Virginia, native has ensured that future generations of scientists will have the research dollars critical to solving what will be some of the world’s most pressing public health issues.
Through a bequest of her estate, Davies, a successful realtor and renowned ballroom dancer, will create the Darla Davies Fund for Cancer Research, an endowed fund whose income will support exciting research, with a preference for seed funding the most innovative ideas.
“This is a rare gift for future cancer investigators,” says Dr. Tom Loughran, director of UVA Cancer Center. “Federal funding for cancer research is tight and usually supports well-established projects. This bequest will allow researchers to pursue their most promising ideas, ideas with the potential to impact countless patients’ lives.”
Davies said a desire to move medicine forward, paired with an understanding of how deeply cancer impacts a person’s life, motivated her to make the gift.
“I’m very happy to support and advance groundbreaking cancer research that’s happening right here in our community,” Davies says. “A thriving research community drives innovation and creativity forward, and it is by seeding the most promising new ideas that I hope this fund will contribute to saving lives and advancing knowledge.”
A cancer survivor herself, she has also watched her mother and brother battle the disease.
“Cancer has touched my life, and I am grateful to be able to make a difference in this fight,” Davies says.
These experiences affected Davies deeply, but unknown to her then, they were experiences that helped prepare her to overcome a significant health issue of her own.
An award-winning competitive ballroom dancer, Davies suffered from a deteriorating left hip joint that was extremely painful and what some doctors told her would be a career-ending injury.
“I was suffering, I was in a lot of pain, and I made a decision about how I wanted to respond to this challenge,” Davies says. “I thought about the cancer survivors I know, and I thought about the people I love who lost their battle with cancer. The courage they displayed, the bravery they exuded everyday fueled me to not only return to the dancefloor, but to come back stronger than ever.”
She chronicles her return to the dancefloor following hip replacement surgery in her new memoir, Who Said I’d Never Dance Again? A Journey From Hip Replacement Surgery to Athletic Victory, available spring 2019. For more information about Darla and her new memoir, visit: www.mydancinghips.com.