JaQuitta Williams of CBS Atlanta News shares her stirring and life-jolting account of discovering and surviving breast cancer in our recent interview. JaQuitta is candid about her sometimes arduous journey after her diagnosis in July 2007.
“Sometimes, a gift may not come in a pretty package. But in the end, it’s a gift just the same. Cancer truly taught me how to live,” she has so eloquently stated.
Q: Did you ever feel at the mercy of the disease when you were initially diagnosed?
A: At first I thought where are my people? I need to be with my people. I have a picture on my mantle of a friend who had a brain tumor around the same time. One of us is here and one of us is not. It could easily have been reversed. Part of me was a little envious, she will be with the Lord and I would have to adjust to my “new normal.” I will let God use me; where He leads, I will follow.
Q: Do you think that it is a myth that cancer is a family disease?
A: No, not in my mind. A lot of women say that cancer is not in their family history. Well, I am the beginning of my family history. I had just celebrated my 36th birthday when I discovered a lump while showering. It floored me. I exercised, ate properly, did all the right things. No one is safe including men, if you have breasts, you are susceptible. Everyone needs to check themselves. It is alarming that some people don’t touch their own bodies.
Q: You left WSB-TV in Atlanta after documenting your journey (JaQuitta’s Journey), what motivated you to take the 18 month break from TV?
A: I had not planned to take the break. After going through reconstruction, lumpectomy, surgery, hair falling out, I could not continue being on air. I realized something was different in the newsroom and it was me. Wearing a wig, the trauma, and feeling close to death with the cancer diagnosis; I did not have the same tenacity. I found that going out on stories affected me more. I needed a break from all of it. My contract was coming to an end and I made a decision to leave. I felt like that part of my life was over. I prayed a very specific prayer before returning to TV news. Certain things I wanted and certain things I did not want. After my interview at CBS Atlanta News, I dropped to my knees in my pretty suit right there in the parking lot. All that I had asked for in that prayer was granted.
One of JaQuitta’s most memorable moments was when she traveled to New York to interview Robin Roberts of Good Morning America. They were both diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2007. “Now they are “breast friends.”
This interview with JaQuitta Williams continues in Part 2