After beating cancer, Many football assistant Jim Davis looks to add another win in Class 2A title game

LaMar Gafford
Alexandria Town Talk

As Many prepares to defend its Class 2A title against Amite on Friday in New Orleans, one person that might be more excited about being there is assistant Jim Davis.

Davis, who coaches the Tigers’ linebackers, was coach Jess Curtis’ first hire in 2010 and has been just as responsible in making them the perennial Class 2A contender they are today.

However, a bout with cancer this year threatened to take that away.

“Just the fact that we’re there and I’m there just blows me away,” Davis said.

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In February, Davis, who has never smoked or used tobacco in his life, was diagnosed with Stage 2-3 basaloid squamous cell carcinoma throat cancer.

During Many’s 16-13 win over Kinder in the Class 2A championship game last season, something was not feeling right for Davis, who was going through stomach pain at the time.

Davis, 57, went to his doctor to check things out two months later and they discovered some ulcers causing the pains. They also found a mass behind his vocal cords.

“I was very lucky I found out that I had throat cancer because of a stomach ache,” Davis said. “I could feel something in my throat and I thought it was scar tissue from acid reflux. I just buried my mom on Feb. 23 and then within a week or two later, I found out I have cancer.”

Davis underwent three rounds of chemotherapy and 35 radiations simultaneously for seven weeks and said that the procedures were very aggressive since it was at his neck. Davis also lost 50 pounds as a result along with his taste and desire to eat.

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“It was rough,” Davis said. “The recovery was actually harder than my treatments. My throat was totally destroyed and I couldn’t eat. I was on a liquid diet for about six weeks. It was very painful. What I could swallow, hurt so bad.”

Right beside him was his wife, Cindy Davis, who is also the swim coach at Natchitoches Central.

Cindy motivated him during the whole process by holding his hand, patting his back and giving him words of encouragement when it hurt to even drink during his liquid diet.

As he was slowly regaining his sense of taste in late June, but still feeling down, Cindy gave him a cheeseburger from McDonald’s to see if he would be able to eat it.

Davis’ response was priceless.

“I bit into that thing and it was the most glorious thing I’ve tasted in my life,” Davis said. “I could taste all the flavors and I started crying. I cried for two-and-a-half hours with that cheeseburger in my hand.

"That’s what really jumpstarted my recovery. I owe a lot to McDonald’s cheeseburgers."

Returning to the sidelines just in time for the opening of the 2021 season, Davis not only received overwhelming support from the Tiger coaches and players, but from Many.

The school held a pep rally and a fundraiser in his honor with t-shirts saying “Davis Strong." Davis said that each time he sees those shirts it brings back memories of his fight.

“It was unreal what they did for me,” Davis said. “They handed me an envelope and said, ‘It’s yours, do with it what you want.’ It was unreal. They worked with me on my time off and Coach Jess was patient. He said, ‘Come back when you get a chance. Don’t worry about it.’ I would call, text and check in, even though I couldn’t talk much. It makes me feel how blessed I am to be a part of that staff and faculty.”

“He’s a tremendously loyal guy,” Curtis said. “I’m proud of him of what he had to go through during the offseason to battle cancer and to win. He’s a great example of what our coaching staff is. My staff has a wonderful group of guys and it’s one of the secrets why we’re here.”

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As special as this season has been for Davis, topping it off with a championship would make it more special.

“We do a speech with the players the night before each championship we’ve been in, where the players talk about their careers and the coaches speak also,” Davis said. “I never think about what I’m going to say, but I’m probably going to have to have some prepared words this time.

"If we’re able to come out of this (with a win) after what I been through and the support I’ve had, this one is going to be pretty special. This is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”