Wanda’s Story: Keeping the Faith during Cervical Cancer Fight

cervical cancer patient wanda williams and sister in front of detroit church

Wanda Williams kept her promise. And her late mother Rosalee is no doubt smiling proudly from above.

Before Rosalee lost an inspired but unsuccessful fight against abdominal cancer in 2010, she pulled her daughters aside with a simple ask: If confronted with cancer, allow faith to guide the way. Since then, both Wanda and her sister have faced a cancer diagnosis. Her sister, Freida, survived a brain tumor and Wanda was diagnosed with cervical cancer.  Freida reminded Wanda of their mothers advice and faith and prayer got them through cancer together. 

Fast forward to January 2018, when doctors at the Henry Ford Cancer Institute pronounced Williams cancer free. 

“It’s frightening when you are diagnosed with cancer or any other life-threatening disease. My faith helped me through my sorrow,” says Williams, a mother of six children and 13 grandchildren. 

“My support system – my family and close friends – were very empowering. And the doctors and nurses at the Cancer Institute helped me stay positive while I was going through the difficulties of treatment.”

cervical cancer patient wanda williams and sister sitting on stoopWilliams was diagnosed with cervical cancer by her primary care physician in 2016 after experiencing lower back pain and other symptoms. Common symptoms of cervical cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding, constipation or changes in bowel function, pelvic pain and pain when urinating.

She was referred for treatment to the Henry Ford Cancer Institute, where she underwent two surgeries, the first to remove the cancer and the second a hysterectomy. Rabbie Hanna, M.D., a gynecologic oncology surgeon, performed both.

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“My first encounter with him was so positive,” Williams recalls. “He reassured me I was in good hands with the cancer team. The nurses were very encouraging.” 

cervical cancer patient wanda williams and sister at tigers comerica parkAs many cancer patients have done, Williams chronicled her journey on paper with thoughts, emotions and poems. She hopes to turn it into a book of inspiration for cancer patients. 

“Cancer is scary but I decided to smile and remain positive, despite how frightening it was for me,” says Williams, a graduate of the Detroit Bible Institute. “My faith is very important to me. I prayed every day, asking for strength, knowledge, understanding and health.”

Since her mother’s passing, Williams is the third family member after her sister and brother to beat cancer. “Everything happens for a reason and God has the final say,” she says. “I feel blessed and thankful for each passing day.”

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