Brain tumor survivor celebrates 40 years

LISCOMB – As Gary Davis celebrates his 60th birthday next month, he’ll have an added incentive to be grateful.

It will also mark the 40th anniversary of a surgery he had to remove a brain tumor.

Doctors told him 40 years ago he would be lucky to live five years.

“It means a lot that I could make it,” Davis said. “Especially with that old type of surgery.”

The tumor was discovered when he began having frequent headaches. At first, it was believed to be his eyes, but eventually a brain tumor was found behind his left eye.

Davis, then 20 years old, believed the doctors back then thought his situation was dire. He bought a dog and a cat for his wife as a way for her to remember him.

He credits his dad, Lloyd Davis, for buying him weights to use to make sure he didn’t stay sedentary in his rehabilitation following his surgery.

“That’s what got me going,” he said.

The tumor never returned. The road hasn’t always been easy and he said he feels the tumor has slowed him down significantly in recent years. He worked at Lennox for 23 years but hasn’t had steady employment since 1999.

“I can’t get in the workplace,” he said. “Everything is fast paced for me.”

Davis grew up in Marshalltown and moved to Liscomb five years ago. To fill his time, and to give back, he cares for lawns for several elderly people in Marshalltown. He cherishes the time he spends with people like Dr. Robert Mandsager.

“I like their wisdom,” Davis said. “They tell me everything.”

He also still attends Marshalltown High School football and basketball games.

“I support those guys 110 percent,” he said.

For decades, he kept the fact that he had a brain tumor in the past silent. People would see him walk funny and thought he was drunk. He also was one of the slowest moving players in the slow-pitch softball league. He now wants to share his accomplishment as he is at the doorstep of a milestone.