Cancer did not stop Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church member, Cynthia Stokes Williams.
When the church’s pastor, Rev. Stanley Walker, heard her diagnosis, he introduced her to another church member with cancer. The two formed a bond, often sharing the details of their daily trials caused by cancer.
Her friend, however, did not survive. Williams honors the friendship by distributing care packages to those with cancer and telling her story at the American Cancer Society and church.
Diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2001, Williams learned of her illness after a self-administered breast examination revealed a lump in her right breast. A month later the lump was determined as cancerous.
Now, she urges all women to learn how to give themselves breast examinations.
“I had a mammogram a month before and nothing showed up,” recalls Williams.
The lump was removed along with 17 lymph nodes in her right arm. She also underwent a 21-month process of chemotherapy and radiation.
During this time she lost all her hair and experienced constant fatigue. “The most devastating part was one morning when I woke up… I glanced back at the pillow and my hair was still there on the pillow.”
She received support and prayers from her church family throughout her ordeal. When members call Walker seeking hope she tells them, “you’ve been through things before and this too shall pass.”
In Williams’ case this was true and she recovered from this ordeal with an inspiring story that she often shares.
“One thing that I found, unfortunately, with our race of people is we don’t share things that will help the other person… and other people need to see if you made it through it I can do it too. We all need that hope” Williams said.
Williams works in many American Cancer Society support groups.
For more information on the different programs the society offers visit their Web site at www.cancer.org, or call (850) 297-0588 and ask for Kathy Ashton the area cancer control specialist.
For those coping with cancer now, Williams’ advice is to “laugh as much as you can and as hard as you can” and always, “celebrate life.”