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4-time breast-cancer survivor writes book

Mike Burkett
staff writer

The last time West Valley View readers met Sherry B. Williams, in May 2004, the 43-year-old independent sales director for Mary Kay Inc. had beaten breast cancer three times.

Now she's beaten breast cancer four times, and she has written a book for those who may be facing their first round of battle with the disease.

Not only that, Williams will be signing copies of her literary debut, When Cancer Calls, at 2 p.m. Nov. 6 at Borders Books & Music, 10100 W. McDowell Road in Avondale.

Williams, a former Avondale resident, calls the slim paperback volume "a little book with a big message. She is correct on both counts. Containing fewer words and a larger type size than the average Dr. Seuss tome, When Cancer Calls was created and self-published "to give people hope and help them cope," its author said.

There aren't many people as certain of the healing power of hope and positive thinking than Williams.

Since 1999, when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer, Williams has undergone a lumpectomy, a double mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and monthly tests for recurrences.

Unfortunately, in July 2004, a recurrence was indeed found.

Doing something different
"More radiation was not an option and another surgery was not an option," Williams said, recalling her reaction to her fourth cancer diagnosis in five years. "I told my doctors, 'I did exactly what you told me to do the first three times and the cancer still came back. When you keep doing the same thing, youšre going to keep getting the same results. This time, I am going to do something different.'"

In lieu of traditional treatment, Williams checked into Dr. Andrew Weil's Program in Integrative Medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Arizona, which treats cancer by integrating conventional medicine with alternative medicine, nutrition, exercise and spirituality.

Today, Williams said, admitting that she was employing the power of positive thought, "I am not in remission. I have conquered cancer. I am done."

Before sitting down to pen When Cancer Calls, Williams had been working on a full-length book that she calls her "cancer autobiography." But when she realized the depth of raw emotion and even rawer memories required to write such a personal epic, "I knew I wasnšt ready to put myself through that," Williams said.

"Instead, I wanted to write a little book that would tell those who have recently been diagnosed with cancer, and their families and loved ones, that there is hope."

But that's not all she wanted to say.

"I wanted them to know that cancer affects all ages, races, socio-economic groups and religions all over the world. That they should not blame themselves or think that God is punishing them.

"And most important, that their state of mind has a lot to do with how they survive their treatments — and if they will survive their treatments."

Sherry B. Williams is right. Messages don't come much bigger than that.

Mike Burkett can be reached by e-mail at

© 2009 - Sherry B. Williams. All rights reserved.