David Nance is no stranger to adversity or illness.

Growing up as a child, his family did not have much money so he learned very early that anything worth having was worth working for and to have it you had to work for it. He also learned the hard way from personal experience that life can deal some difficult blows.

In 1941, at the age of 11, his oldest brother accidentally shot him in the face with a .38.

“We lived 15 miles out in the country,” Nance said. “One of our neighbors rushed me to the hospital. The only thing the doctor did was sew my face up for the undertaker, so I would look OK in the casket. The doctor told my family there was no way I would make it.”

David was given a 1 in 1000 chance of survival due to the loss of blood and the extent of his injuries. He realized he was not going to die when he had a very vivid near death experience. He began to improve and he learned to walk all over again. He had to teach himself a new way of learning, which was very difficult. Because of this, he dropped out of school in the eighth grade.

“I developed my own way of thinking and doing. I got a job as a day laborer to help my family. When I was 20 years old, I went to Abilene and learned welding. I did that type of work until I retired.”

David has a “never give up attitude” and strong faith in Jesus Christ that has helped him through many obstacles and hard times in his life. He lost his oldest daughter when she was 3 years old and his oldest son was killed at the age of 25. He also lost his granddaughter Shelly tragically in September 2009.

His faith and positive attitude were also tested when he was diagnosed with cancer. During a routine checkup with his doctor, he was diagnosed with lymphoma. His doctor did not do anything so he decided he needed a second opinion. That was a decision that ultimately saved his life. His new doctor, Dr. Ledbetter, did a thorough checkup and found something between his shoulder blades. After a biopsy was done, he was diagnosed with stage II melanoma.

“I went to the doctor for another checkup and they decided since I had not had a colonoscopy, they should do one. They did it and found a tumor. They did surgery to remove 20 inches of my colon and also found cancer in three lymph nodes. Because of this I had to take chemo.”

The chemo was very stout and made him very ill with nausea and weakness. Three months after completing chemo, David’s brother in California died, but he was still too weak to attend the funeral. Cancer and the treatment for it were taking their toll on him.

Life dealt him another blow when the doctor found another melanoma on his back. He was referred to Dr. Kent Aftergut in Cedar Hill who prescribed a three-year regimen of Efudex.

“I have been in remission for seven years now,” Nance said. “I am thankful to God and my doctors for my healing.”

David loves to tell everyone how blessed he is. He also says one of the best things that every happened to him was the cancer. He believes that he is alive because it was discovered very early. He stressed that the second opinion he sought was the right thing to do.

David and his wife, Dorothy, are faithful members of First Baptist Church in Waxahachie. He loves to hunt and fish. He also enjoys playing dominos with his “fuddy duddy buddies.”

“Dorothy and I sit and look out our back windows every morning and enjoy our coffee. We also share our prayer time, which makes mornings very special. I am so thankful for the 56 years God has given me with her.”

Relay For Life of Central Ellis County is on May 20 and 21 at the Waxahachie Sports Complex on U.S. Highway 287 and Broadhead Road. A reception for cancer survivors and caregivers will begin at 6 p.m. Relay will begin at 7 p.m. with the survivor’s lap. Contact Donna Daniell at 469-337-0438 for more information or to register as a survivor or caregiver.