Jennifer Williams, family lean on faith after breast cancer diagnosis

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comApril 10, 2013 

Jennifer Williams had to tell her children about her breast cancer.

The Pine Mountain Valley family was familiar with life's curveballs. Jennifer's husband, 41-year-old Jeremy, has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The fatal condition, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Their 9-year-old son, Jacob, has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair. They also have an 11-year-old daughter, Josie.

"I need to tell you about the blessings that have recently occurred in my life," Williams, 40, said to her children.

In February, she found a knot on her breast, “due to God’s grace,” Williams said. An examination revealed it was a calcium deposit, but a cancerous tumor was underneath the deposit. She learned she has breast cancer. She'll have surgery in the near future and undergo chemotherapy and various other therapies, in addition to possible radiation.

Williams remembers her daughter's reaction to the news.

"Could you point out those blessings to me?"

Williams knows Josie isn't the only one asking that question.

"I'm so deeply humbled by all the good and all the blessings that are surrounding this," Williams said. "I know that sounds weird to say."

But there are blessings, Williams maintains, citing the quality of medical care she's received as well as the "miracle of detection."

"Through God's miracle, it got found so early," said Williams, adding that she currently has a good prognosis.

In addition, she points to the chance to inspire and encourage people dealing with similar situations. She remembers asking "why him?" when her husband, the former head football coach at Greenville High School, was diagnosed with ALS in 2008.

Eventually, she learned a lesson. "God has expanded Jeremy's ministry," she said. The family got national attention when they were featured on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

Now, they have another chance to showcase their faith.

"God has provided the Williams family another platform to shine for Him," she said, referring to her breast cancer diagnosis. "I am in the same boat with many, many other women."

Challenges can highlight strength, Williams said. "That's when your testimony shines the brightest," she explained.

Of course, the family's latest news attracts certain questions -- most of which don't have easy answers. Many of those questions center on one word: why.

Williams knows the potential perils of dwelling on her problems.

"Satan gets you to focus so much on your problems that you can no longer see God's goodness and God's promises," she said.

She's aware that news of her breast cancer could rattle some people's faith. After all, it seems like a lot for one family to handle.

Yet they are handling it -- amazingly, with love and courage.

"In my opinion, that's not humanly possible without God's intervention," Williams said. "God has definitely just been faithful, like he always is."

Once Williams explained the blessings surrounding her condition, her children were ready to help her fight the cancer. "They were especially courageous," Williams said.

They talked about helping their mother deal with the hair loss that comes with chemotherapy. Williams sees her husband dealing with many of the emotions she experienced when she learned about his ALS diagnosis.

Family members won't be the only ones at her side. Even after the "Extreme Makeover" cameras left, the community remained invested in the family's story. Williams is grateful for the support her family has received.

"Thank you for the many prayers and all the support," she said. "We feel blessed to live where we live."

Williams is not Superwoman. She talks about times when she initially fought God in her family's journey. Even during the early stages of her current condition, she had a feeling her life would take another potentially challenging turn.

"I just knew God was going to call me to walk through something," she said.

It's not the straightforward path you find when life goes as planned. Williams will likely encounter detours and rocky patches. This journey doesn't come with printable directions.

But she isn't walking alone.

Sonya Sorich, 706-571-8516.

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