In remembrance of Larry Davis, a true leader in the fight against mesothelioma
Larry Davis took the world by storm: he took a six-month mesothelioma prognosis and turned it into to six years. During that time he became a fervent advocate in the battle for asbestos exposure. It became his personal mission to fire a shot heard round the world.
An avid runner, Davis took his six-month prognosis and ran it to Washington, D.C.: to politicians who would listen and those who wouldn’t; he ran it to Congress and told it to wake up; to researchers and physicians; to victims and their communities. Finding it unacceptable that the U.S. had not banned asbestos, Davis shared his personal story— and other’s stories to further the cause.
Linda Reinstein, president and co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), recalls meeting Davis: “At first, he was so bold and brash I didn’t think I could work with him.” Reinstein says Davis was laser-focused on one thing: finding a cure. In this he was unrelenting and headstrong, with a take no prisoners view.
What began as a tentative relationship would become a time-tested friendship. Reinstein and Davis began exchanging stories. Davis’ focus eventually expanded to include not just finding a cure for asbestos cancers but advocating for an across-the-board international ban.
Davis died passed on July 2, 2012. Before leaving for California to attend his funeral in South Florida, Reinstein recalled the massive impact he had on her life and the lives of the entire mesothelioma community.
“Larry always thought outside of the box. If it wasn’t right, it was wrong. If he had a voice, he was going to use it,” Reinstein said. The words bold, brash and tenacious can sometimes carry a bad meaning, but in our work (mesothelioma advocacy) they are a good thing.’
Reinstein recalled receiving an email from “Sunglasses Larry” and thinking how such light humor seemed contrary to the man she first met. “He once referred to me as General Patton, and I didn’t know whether it was a compliment or not.” She would later understand it was high praise considering her colleague’s mantra: “Lead, or get out of the way.”
Davis was a staunch advocate of immunotherapy and other less traditional forms of treatment, as an alternative to chemotherapy. “Larry thought outside the box,” says Reinstein. “He wanted his doctors to think outside the box, too.”
Like many patients diagnosed with mesothelioma, Davis was given a short life expectancy. But, unlike most, he adopted a more radical treatment approach including immunotherapy and holistic medicine. He pursued the most innovative physicians; he demanded the most progressive type of surgical tumor removal. He kept a positive attitude and kept on running.
Davis had already completed 18 marathons when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
After surgery he organized Miles for Mesothelioma Road Race and Tribute Walk to raise funds for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF). Next he incorporated a symposium to provide a public voice for comprehensive discussion among friends, physicians and advocates— to give the message ‘legs.’
Reinstein, a long-time friend of Davis, experienced the devastation of mesothelioma when her husband Alan Reinstein was diagnosed in 2003. Like Davis, both Reinsteins became soldiers in the fight for passage of a global asbestos ban.
Davis received the 2012 Alan Reinstein Memorial Award for his contribution to countless mesothelioma patients and families. His brother, Dr. David Davis, accepted the award on his behalf.
Larry Davis is survived by his wife Carol and daughter Courtney. Davis’s family continues their commitment to the cause.