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Live Your Dash: Olivia Davis

NAIT Ooks player survived cancer

By Colin Gaumont

NAIT Ooks player survived cancer
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The Ooks’ backup goalie is used to making saves for others. But when life threw a shot at her in 2013, she had to make a save for herself.

At the age of 13, Davis was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a type of cancer in the blood. Davis went through intensive treatment for nine months and hockey had to be put on hold.

“It was scary, I didn’t really understand it being so young,” said Davis.

“I knew it was going to be a challenge in my life that I was going to have to overcome and I was ready to do that.”

Regardless of the diagnosis, Davis knew that she wanted to work to get back to playing hockey.

“So the first thing I asked my doctor when I found out was when could I get back on the ice. That’s all I cared about. Doctors told me I had to stop playing right away because my white blood cell count was so low that it was dangerous. I could get injured very easily,” said Davis.

“For the first nine months, I couldn’t do any physical activity aside from walking.”

Looking back on her treatment process, Davis reflects on how difficult the whole process was.

“My treatment process was really complicated. I had to get nine months of really intense chemotherapy,” said Davis.

“In the span of my entire treatment, I received 10 different kinds of chemo, which brought on different symptoms. The first nine months were really intense and then for about a year I would go for treatment every month.”

Following her treatment process, Davis found that getting her strength back was challenging but getting back to where she was before was her main goal.

“For the first nine months I was completely wiped, not much muscle left and not a lot of stamina,” said Davis.

“It took a lot of strength mentally to get back to where I was.”

Davis has been in full remission since 2016, however there were times during her treatment that she struggled.

“The first few months I was really discouraged just because I saw how much I’d changed,” said Davis.

“In July 2014 I lost all my hair and I was just coming off chemo that made me really weak and I was in a lot of pain. I was in a wheelchair and at that point in my treatment, I was extremely negative. I didn’t want to get better and I wanted it all to stop. After a week of sulking, I realized that’s not who I am and my positivity skyrocketed and that’s when I started to get better.”

Getting back on the ice was important for Davis after her treatment and she made sure not to waste any time.

“One month after being on the ice after my treatment I tried out for a Rep A team and made it,” said Davis.

“I’ve always wanted to play Team Canada, which seems like a farfetched goal, but I made it my goal to make AAA and I did that. I took last year off but I always knew I wanted to play post-secondary so I emailed NAIT and they told me to come to try out and here I am.”

Davis learned a lot of life lessons from her experience and others who were in a similar situation inspired her to be better.

“I learned to appreciate life more. It taught me to remove stress and drama from things I don’t need,” said Davis.

“I learned to appreciate every moment I’m given because it can all be taken away in less than a month. I have a tattoo that says ‘live your dash’, which means live life to the fullest. It is in honour of Brooke Malakoff, a big influencer in my treatment, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was given a year to live but she lived for four. She never complained about anything and appreciated everything she was given. I hold that very dear to my heart.”

For those who may have similar challenges in their lives, Davis offers some advice.

“Don’t ever tell yourself that you can’t. My treatment has shown that anything is possible as I was playing hockey again nine months after my treatment. So with having the right mindset, anything is possible.”

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