Beating the odds despite fatal statistics

Woodsburgh resident Marc Davids overcomes brain cancer


On March 11, 2009 Woodsburgh resident Marc Davids’ left arm started shaking uncontrollably while at work at a small savings bank in Manhattan. A few weeks before that, his face would go numb and his lips quivered.

Before the shaking episode, Davids experienced what he thought were symptoms of a heart attack. Examined by a cardiologist, stress was considered the cause. “The symptoms included what I can describe as palpations in my chest,” he said. “Weeks could go by without any symptoms and other weeks, it would happen on and off throughout the day.”

The shaking in his arm didn’t stop as he retreated to lunch that day in 2009. “I actually remember trying to hold down my left arm with my right and couldn’t stop it from shaking,” he said. “I tried to get up and go to the bathroom and I remember fainting in the middle of my office.”

When Davids awoke he was in the emergency room at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan. “After a CAT scan and an MRI, I was told to spend the night pending the test results,” he said. “Later that night the test results came in and I was told that I had a tumor in my brain and they recommended I take it out right away.”

A week and a half later, Davids had a craniotomy and was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and deadliest brain tumor in adults, according to the National Brain Tumor Society. “I was 48 at the time and never sick for a day in my life,” he said. “I used to tell my kids I was Iron Man. My thoughts were, ‘what is going on here? This isn’t happening to me.’”

Doctors wanted to be aggressive with Davids’ treatment and aside from chemotherapy and radiation, he was also taking a brain cancer treatment drug. “Every step of the way these doctors encouraged me to look at myself as an individual and not worry about the statistics,” he said.

Dr. Marc Chamberlain, a neuro-oncology specialist at the University of Washington, said treatment for glioblastoma multiforme typically includes a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. “The average survival rate is 18 months,” he said. “And unfortunately, there are no early detection or prevention programs for brain


Davids’ continued treatment successfully until September 2011, when something showed up on his MRI. “To this day no one is exactly sure what was on that MRI — whether the cancer actually came back or my brain went through some slight anomaly that they couldn’t explain but to be cautious I was put back on [the brain cancer treatment drug] and resumed chemotherapy until it disappeared,” he said. “I’m not a woe is me type of person; if something is there I want to take care of it and move on.”

Nina, Davids’ wife, said her perspective on life changed completely since her husband’s diagnosis. “Marc has the most wonderful attitude and would not allow me to fall down that rabbit hole. He insisted we were going to fight it to the best of our ability and we had to focus on the positive and take action,” she said. “I have learned to take each day as it comes and cherish it.”

Since his scare in 2011, Davids has been cancer-free and living a normal life with Nina and their two daughters, Rachil, a junior at Cornell University and Alexa, a junior at Hewlett High School.

He continues to monitor the cancer at NYU’s Cancer Center. “It’s hard for something like this to not change your life but I’m a positive person and know that this is not something I can control,” he said. “I can’t tell you that I’m not scared every two months on MRI day but my wife and I try to make the best of it.”