CENTERBURG — When Amanda Williams found out that her allergic reaction was more than just a case of bad allergies, but cholangiocarcinoma, she, and her family, were shocked.
Her journey began in March of last year, when the interior of her workplace was remodeled with new paint and carpet.
“I started itching really bad, so I went to my family doctor and he said, ‘I think you might have an allergy to the paint or the carpet.’ So he [sent] me to an allergist,” said Williams.
For two months she was treated for allergies to carpet and paint products, but doctors still couldn’t find what was causing her reaction.
“[Then] they thought that I might have caught Hepatitis C, so I was really upset. ... I went back to my family doctor in May and they tested me, and that is when they found out that I had bile duct cancer,” she said.
Cholangiocarcinoma cancer, also known as bile duct cancer, is considered to be a rare form of cancer in the United States.
“There are only 400 cases in Ohio. It’s noted mostly in European countries,” said Williams.
Things looked grim, but she never forgot to believe. From her faith, the word believe became a word of meditation, courage, and hope.
“It started with my daughter,” she said.
Her daughter, Ella Corrado, who lives in Delaware, got a tattoo of the word “believe” on her left wrist.
“I wanted to support my mom. And I believe in miracles,” said Corrado. “... I strongly believe in all the powers and miracles [of God].”
“Then when I was shopping at the Dollar Store, I found those little magnets that said ‘believe,’ said Williams. “And Richard said that would be kind of neat to give them to [our daughters] so I bought a bunch of them and gave out to people at work, and gave them to my daughters.”
The hope continued to spread, and one of Williams’ coworkers at Safe Lite Auto Glass of Columbus took the magnet and went one step further.
Williams worked every day for as long as she could, not missing a single day, and her co-worker were inspired by her bravery. One day when she went into work she found a T-shirt with the word “believe” on it.
“No one would tell me who put the T-shirt in my mailbox,” said Williams. “Finally [my co-worker] admitted that it was him. And he said, ‘You have been such an inspiration and you are such an amazing person to have so much courage to go through this.’
“He took the magnet up to Polaris and he had a friend of his make a T-shirt with the word ‘believe’ on it.
“It just kind of snowballed from there,” she continued. “Then the [maker] at Polaris had some material left over, so he started making little tote bags.”
Now the word believe is on magnets, T-shirts, printed paper and bags.
“They are a very wonderful company and very supportive,” said Williams. “When I would go for my chemo treatment at the James [Cancer Hospital], everyone would come to work wearing the T-shirt in support of me.”
As a gift from her hospice case worker, she received a cross with the word “believe” on it.
“You have to believe that things are going to get better and just believe; it’s such a powerful word,” said Williams.
“When my mom was first diagnosed, it was such a dire prognosis that I questioned God, ‘why mom?’ Because she is such a great person, why her? But I trust that he has a plan,” said Corrado.
For over a year, Williams has been fighting the cancer, but the disease has become more aggressive and has moved fast.
“I had drainage bags put in for about five months and I went through a very, very hard time with the poison and stuff in my body. Well, cancer has never been a friendly person anyway, so it went into my liver, then into my lungs, and now it’s in my spine and into my neck,” she said.
And although she has had to have surgery seven times and use drainage bags, she said she has never stopped believing in God.
“That’s my journey so far, but I’m not done yet,” said Williams. “I think God has a plan for all of us and I think we just have to put our faith in him. He knows what’s best for us. Just like that saying God gives us what we need and not what we want, and that is how I look at it. ... Keep the faith, keep believing.”
Williams’ husband, Richard, said she has always been able to touch the lives around her at home, at church and at work.
“We have all wondered why God picked Amanda to have this cancer, but I believe he knew Amanda could touch so many people,” he said.
With one word, Amanda has touched the lives of the people around her to believe in the hope and love of God.
“I think the joy of it all is seeing so many people take hold of it and say ‘I believe,’” she said.