All odds were against him. Twice diagnosed with stage IV brain cancer — at ages 10 and 11 — and a survival rate of a mere 3 percent, it would take a miracle for David Fitting to make it through.
But Fitting, now 20, beat the odds. In 2003 he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive and malignant cancer. “The first time around I was in shock because I was 10. My mom had colon cancer, so I always thought that only adults could get cancer,” he said.
The Boynton Beach resident recalls when the doctor came in and told him he had cancer: “I remember asking him when I was going to die.”
Standing in the doorway the day he was diagnosed was his mom, Kathy Cummings, who herself had survived stage III colon cancer. To Fitting, she was living proof that you could beat cancer. “After seeing her I knew that everything was going to be OK; something just told me that it was.”
Fitting underwent 36 radiation treatments and a year of chemotherapy.
His battle didn’t end there. After undergoing brain surgery to remove a second tumor, Fitting had to endure two more years of chemo, which forced him to give up sports, something he grew up loving. He turned to comedy for strength.
“Stand up-comedy was something that helped me cope with what was happening,” he said.
With lots of time to practice, Fitting honed his comedic skills and eventually became something of a professional. He went onto win two national contests in his mid teens. One of those contests gave him the opportunity to fly out to Los Angeles and perform two nights at the Melrose comedy club. He had the chance to perform alongside such comedians as Todd Glass, Jeff Ross and Daniel Tosh.
Fitting, now a nine-year cancer survivor, is a burly, weightlifting 6-footer.
A student at Palm Beach State College studying mathematics, he dedicates himself to making regular visits to St. Mary’s Medical Center where he volunteers with the Pediatric Oncology Support Team Inc., doing whatever he can to help ease the trauma of kids who have been diagnosed with cancer. He tries to be a mentor and helps them remain optimistic. Comedy worked for him, and he encourages the kids to find something that will help them cope.
“When you’re sick you can’t really do much, but there are a lot of others things you can do and you have to focus on that,” said Fitting, who reminds every person battling with cancer that “every day that you’re on this earth, you’re a survivor.”
Q & A
What are your hobbies?
Going to the gym and the beach.
What would you do if you were invisible for a day?
Be a fly on the wall; see what people have to say behind closed doors.
If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?
Dr. Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins. He grew up in the ghetto, his mom had third-grade education and his brother was killed. Now he’s the head of neurosurgery, plastic surgery education and head of pediatrics.
What event in history would you have liked to have witnessed?
To see the Rat Pack perform.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Spending my summer in Beach Haven, N.J.
Who is your hero, someone who inspires you?
Steven Cooper. He was going through treatment the same time I was. He was always positive and reminded me to stay focused on the good. (Cooper eventually died from cancer)