In 2009, Chantz Williams didn’t feel well. She had always been in touch with her body and exercise was a regular part of her routine, so when she noticed she didn’t feel right, she knew to check it out. Her primary care physician suggested fatigue.
Soon Chantz felt a lump at the bottom of her right breast and visited her gynecologist.
Both breasts were biopsied; cancer was found in the right breast. “When I heard the diagnosis, I never asked why. I knew God had my back and that I’d be fine,” Chantz recalls. “But I couldn’t keep saying ‘cancer.’ Something died inside me every time I said it. So I told very few people. I didn’t want people to pity me. I needed to be around strong people.” Her mother’s death of kidney cancer at age 56 complicated her feelings.
Chantz has been a member of the Harris Health System family for 32 years as an accounts payable analyst. She told only her boss and one co-worker. Then she set about, in her words, “keeping it moving.”
A week after the biopsy, Chantz had a lumpectomy and went home the same day. She had radiation treatments twice a day for seven days. In spring 2013, she was released from her bi-annual check-ups and now schedules them annually.
“I still tire quickly, but I know to rest when the fatigue starts,” she says. Tiring is relative. Chantz exercises every day. Twice a day, during work breaks, she walks a mile through the hallways at Harris Health’s Holly Hall building. She attends a class that includes boot camp exercises and aerobics.
Chantz has plenty of advice for women who get a similar diagnosis: “It’s not a death sentence. First, pray. Give it to God, and then keep it moving. Do what the doctors tell you to do. Don’t stop and feel sorry for yourself. Keep your faith — pray it, believe it.”
Actually, Chantz, who dresses for an outing to the mall as if she’s going to work or church, has plenty of advice for everyone. Her girlfriends say she should be a women’s counselor. She tells them, “Feel good about yourself. It shows in your face, your eyes and your appearance. So keep yourself up. Dress up. Look up.”