A Survivor Up Close: JaQuitta Williams

Written by  //  March 5, 2013  //  FAITH  // 

JaQuitta

By Courtney D. Ward
Oct 2012

The American Cancer Society reported in September 2012, that there are 2.9 million cancer survivors in the United States. And within that 2.9 million, are stories of how each one became a survivor.

When news anchor JaQuitta Williams was told she had breast cancer, the doctor had to repeat it 3 times in order for her to understand what he said. Everyone has their own reaction upon hearing they have breast cancer, and for Williams, it took a minute for it to register. “My mind never went to breast cancer because it is not in my family,” said Williams. “I do not smoke. I was 35 at the time. I was healthy. I worked out. I ate properly. I did all the right things according to the ‘check list’.”

Williams was a reporter for WSB-TV in Atlanta when she found out she had breast cancer. As she was working on her script for the news, she received a phone call from her doctor. “Once he told me, I hung up the phone, and went back to writing my script. All of a sudden I felt my keyboard wet, and I realized I was crying,” says Williams. “I immediately called my producer. You would think I would have called my mom first, but I spoke with him and told him what happened, and that I was not able to finish my script. On my way home, it hit me again, and I thought… I’m going to die”, says Williams. Williams confessed she knew she was about to go on a journey. This journey involved Williams meeting other breast cancer survivors, participating in cancer walks, and the road to beating cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, and early detection is critical. While taking a shower, Williams felt something in her breast and decided to seek medical attention. Breast cancer was far from her mind.

“For my family and me, I make the history now for breast cancer. “No one in my family had breast cancer. There were no symptoms, other than me feeling something in my breast,” said Williams.

Every woman and man should do a self-breast check. For women, it should be done a week after menstruation. “Just because there is no family history does not mean that you are “doing all the right things,” nor does it mean you are less susceptible to the disease,” says Williams.  “And just because you are in your 20s, or because you are a man does not mean you are less susceptible to breast cancer. If you have breasts, which all of us have, then you can become a candidate for breast cancer — bottom line.”

There are two main breast cancers that affect women: Ductal Carcinoma and Lobular Carcinoma. Ductal Carcinoma is a tumor that forms in the tubes that move milk from the breast to the nipple. Williams was diagnosed with Invasive/Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma, or IDC and this particular breast cancer is the most common breast cancer found in women. If IDC is not detected in its early stages, the cancer can easily break through the wall of the milk duct and evade the tissues of the breast. Lobular Carcinoma is formed in parts of the breast that produce milk, called lobules.

Williams took a hiatus for a year and a half from television to focus on recovery and living life to the fullest. She made a list of things that she always wanted to do. Williams had reached a point in her life where she truly valued her time.

“I needed life to be fun,” says Williams. So she went on a quest to discover fun and exciting things to do. Her quest included being a guest on Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and Meet the Browns, participating in Robert Townsend’s Gospel Music of Hope and making appearances on CNN to discuss breast cancer awareness.

The journey was not easy, nevertheless Williams expressed the importance of her faith in God, and the support from her family and friends. When asked what Bible scripture encouraged her most, she confidently said the 23rd Psalm. Even in her darkest moments, Williams kept her faith in God.

In Williams’ case, because the cancer was identified in its early stage, the treatment was aggressive and efficient. “The tumor was the size of a quarter,” describes Williams. By having four rounds of chemotherapy, and a lobectomy, Williams is now cancer free.

After recovery, Williams slowly made her way back to the news cameras. “I was hesitant about coming back to television because I knew that I did not want to change anything about the way I looked. “After losing my hair, and having it come back, the last thing I wanted to be concerned about was my hair. I didn’t want to change it. I didn’t want to relax it anymore. I just wanted to be authentic,” expresses Williams. And she did, by keeping her hair natural and being herself, Williams found her way back to the cameras and is currently the news anchor for CBS Atlanta.

Always showing a radiant smile and bubbly personality, Williams’ journey of becoming a survivor is a testament that miracles do happen, and the fight for a cure is ever so pressing.

“I love this me — this new me!” says Williams.

Williams has been cancer free for 5 years and living strong every day. She has a special segment on CBS Atlanta called JaQuitta’s Close Ups, where she interviews Atlanta celebrities for a one-on-one exclusive interview. The show is aired every Tuesday and Thursday evening at 5:00 o’clock. 

JaQuitta reports the 5:00 o’clock and 6:00 o’clock news on CBS Atlanta. Follow her on Twitter @Jaquittaw.

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Courtney_Ward-NewCourtney D. Ward
“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” -Maya AngelouAs an up and coming journalist, Courtney D. Ward is determined to be an accomplished writer. A native of Atlanta, GA, Courtney attended Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in News Editorial. In 2009, she received the Journalist of the Year Award at the Bethune-Cookman University Massey Awards Ceremony. She is currently a Feature Writer for Esteem Magazine.Visit her in “Twitter-land” @ writedayz. courtney.ward88@gmail.com

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