Nia's breast cancer journey
"Cancer helped me heal”
After several years in an abusive relationship, Nia Williams says it took years for her to try to heal. But it wasn’t until a rare and life-changing diagnosis, and the vision to see stress as an opportunity for growth, that she truly felt she got her life back.
Two days after she’d turned 25, Nia was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer usually found in women over 50: Stage 3 Triple Negative Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (w/BRCA mutation). “I hadn’t been feeling great but attributed that to my pregnancy. Then I had some pain and thought my milk was trying to come in,” she says. It was cancer. Doctors advised Nia that chemotherapy couldn’t wait. Her son Vincenzo completed her four strongest rounds of chemotherapy right along with her.
Nia’s 6-year-old Ava accompanied Nia to every one of her radiation treatments and even shaved the hair off her brand-new barbie doll’s head to look just like mommy. Baby Vincenzo was born months early via emergency C-section due to the effects of chemotherapy on his heart.
After chemotherapy, an emergency C-section, radiation therapy, a double mastectomy and a prophylactic hysterectomy and oophorectomy all within the course of a year, Nia still has side effects of treatment but remains positive and credits her exceptional care team - including her Radiation Oncologist, Niraj Mehta, MD - and her experience with cancer for helping her heal. “I consider myself cancer free. That’s how I’m living.”
Nia’s advice to others:
- Know and listen to your body. If you think something is wrong, get checked out.
- Be your own advocate; make the doctors listen to you, make them take you seriously.
- If you find yourself on a cancer journey, cut out the negativity, focus on the positives and your healing.
“With cancer, people say it ruins your life, but a lot of things make life difficult and scary. Domestic abuse broke me…. some people don’t come back from that. It took getting cancer for me to fully get my life back. It felt like it was slipping through my fingers, but cancer felt like a complete rebirth to me, as if I’ve gone through my cocoon and now this is my caterpillar stage. Cancer healed me. That sounds crazy but it did,” she says.