LIVINGSTON, TX (KTRE) - No matter the weather or circumstance, Polk County Rey Davalos can always be found smiling.
"He always had that quality before, but when you go through something like he did, it makes you appreciate it more," said Polk County Chief Deputy Byron Lyons.
Rey Davalos always wanted to work in law enforcement, and he started off as a jailer at the Polk County Jail then went to the Police Academy at Angelina College. After graduating, he was moved to patrol with the Polk County Sheriff's Department.
In 2014, Davalos started to get concerning remarks from family.
"People were worried about me," Davalos said. "They told me that I was looking more pale than usual."
Davalos went to see a doctor and was scheduled for a blood transfusion. Still worried, he went and got a second opinion.
"They did a biopsy and they confirmed I had leukemia," Davalos said. "It was AML."
Davalos was scheduled to go to the doctor for another biopsy but due to his levels, chemo was started immediately.
"It was scary," Davalos said. "My whole world came down on me. First thing you think is, 'I'm going to die.'"
Davalos got treatment at Methodist Hospital in Houston. Early on, the outlook did not look good.
"After two weeks I was giving up," Davalos said. "I was tired."
Despite feeling weak, he continued to fight for his pregnant wife and three children. Days before he was set for a bone marrow transplant, the donor backed out. It was just another bump in the road for Davalos.
"I cried," Davalos said. "That was my only hope. Then my wife told me. She was like, 'You know what Rey. That wasn't the right person. God has somebody better than this one.''"
Two days later, his prayers were answered when another match was found. Davalos got the treatment on Christmas Eve of 2014.
"I call it my little Christmas miracle. I then spent 100 days in Houston in case I got an infection. When I was cleared, I was ready to head back to work. I did not want to just sit at home. They said I qualified for disability. I didn't want to be home. I wanted to be back on the road."
Lyons may be his supervisor but he has known Davalos since he was in school.
"When I was with Livingston Police, I would see Rey at school and ball games, and he would always tell me he wanted to be an officer. Sure enough he would do it. He is amazing. There was nothing other than, 'I'm going to beat this. I'll be back to work. I will be back,' he always told me."
In the two years since, Davalos is one of the first to step up and give back. This year Davalos led an effort in the department with handing out turkeys to unsuspecting motorist during thanksgiving.
"I want to reach out to the community and for them to see that we are not all bad cops," Davalos said. "We have a heart also. Us as law enforcement are out there and we love the community. I see these people when I am out, and I just want to talk to them. I say, 'Hey you are on drugs and drinking and hurting yourself. You are going to kill yourself while I am over here fighting for my life.' I try to be encouragement, so they can get better."
Davalos said his faith has kept him going, and it doesn't take long to find people he works with that can confirm it.
"One of the things that I got from Rey is that regardless of what may be presented to you, or maybe what you see, is that always still have a belief in your self and belief in God that whatever it is, he's going to get you through it," Lyons said.