PORTSMOUTH — Jamie Williams, a two-time breast cancer survivor, was first diagnosed in 2007 at the age of 35 and was diagnosed for a second time 12 years later.
“I went through chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation and had about 12 and a half years of good health but then had a reoccurrence which required a more drastic surgery, more chemotherapy, so now I am two years out,” said Williams. “I feel great and thankful I’m doing this well.”
Williams’ treatments were a combination of Southern Ohio Medical Center and King’s Daughter’s Medical Center.
“I feel like our area is blessed to have both facilities that are able to take care of the different needs,” said Williams. “That kept me from having to go out of town and worked with my work schedule.”
For Williams, working was a big part of keeping her life normal during her time of treatment.
“Part of me getting well was to be able to resume some normalcy and I think most people who battle that, if they feel like they can have as normal of a life as they can, it just stirs something within you to keep fighting for what’s normal,” said Williams. “Most patients I work with have Alzheimer’s, so as long as they saw a familiar face, it didn’t matter if I had hair or a bandana on and it was just good medicine during that time.”
After her first diagnosis, Williams began chemotherapy a week later due to how aggressive the cancer was and had a total of eight rounds every two weeks.
After chemotherapy, Williams took an IV treatment for the next year and took tamoxifen for five years and Femara for five years. During her second diagnosis, Williams had around four months of treatment and another year of IV therapy.
Williams stressed the importance of knowing the risk factors of the disease.
“I was shocked when I found out because my twin sister and I are the youngest out of eight girls and I wouldn’t have been shocked if they were diagnosed, but my mom comes from a family of mainly women and none of them have had it,” said Williams.
Williams said due to her being proactive, the cancer was caught early, but due to it being so aggressive, if she would have waited, then her outcome could have been different.
“I encourage people to be proactive about their health,” said Williams. “It’s hard to let people do things for you when you’re independent, but when you’re going through this, there are times where you have to let people help.”
Support was a big factor during Williams’ recovery and she feels it’s important for others to reach out to those they are close with or support groups.
“I don’t know about other people, but I felt guilty that I was making other people sad, and I hated having to tell people who were close to me because they felt helpless,” said Williams. “It’s important to reach out, but if it gets too hard for your family or whoever you might reach out to, try reaching out to anyone who could be a listening ear or someone who has been through it themselves.”
Williams said she had a huge support group throughout her journey.
“I had a ton of family support with seven sisters, my parents, my husband, my church and work, so I had plenty of support,” said Williams. “I always thought I would be one of those people who have it once and would be finished with it, so the second time set me back mentally, but I’ve always had a fight, so I told myself to start it, finish it, and put it in the past.”
Williams said her close friend she made during her first round of chemotherapy was who taught her to help others no matter what you’re going through.
“Angie Kelly and I met in the chemo chair and our families knew each other but we had never met, so we connected through that,” said Williams.
The two sat together during chemo, watched The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and enjoyed time getting to know each other.
“She taught me even with what we were going through, we could still help others,” said Williams. “She was a fighter and battled for years without a break.”
Reach Darian Gillette at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved