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A Christmas wish comes true

Williams family brought together for the holidays from across time zones

Posted: December 27, 2011 2:56 p.m.
Updated: December 28, 2011 2:52 p.m.
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After Roy Williams was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, the Camden community responded by providing the family with plane tickets to bring them together for the holidays.

Roy Williams describes his life story in the past few months “like being in a Christmas movie.”

Roy and his wife, Cindy, have been struggling to make ends meet for a while. That same struggle led the family to move to Oklahoma, where Cindy’s family lives, last year in the hopes of Roy finding steady work to feed and support his family.

Roy has seven children between the ages of 19 and 4 months. The oldest three are from a previous marriage, and four with Cindy.

“I got a job, but then I was laid off,” Roy said of Oklahoma.

However, just days after Roy was laid off he got a call from Camden. It was a friend saying he had a possible job opportunity.

Roy packed his bags and moved back Camden to get back to work. Cindy and the couple’s four children stayed behind in Oklahoma with her mother.

Then everything started to unravel.

Roy’s leg was swelling, but he didn’t think much about it.

“I was working through it,” he said. “It wasn’t like I really had time to go see a doctor.”

When he finally went to KershawHealth Urgent Care in Elgin, he was diagnosed with a blood clot behind his knee. Further tests showed he had two more clots in his lungs.

And the news continued to get worse.

After more tests, doctors told Roy he had stage 4 colon cancer and one to two more years to live.

“What’s weird is that I really didn’t have any symptoms,” Roy said. “The doctors said it was odd for the cancer to be this advanced without me having any symptoms. At times it almost doesn’t seem real.”

Cindy said she heard “cancer” and was on the first flight back to Camden. She and the couple’s 4-month-old son, John, returned to Kershaw County. The rest of the children stayed in Oklahoma with Cindy’s mother, Eva Ruhl.

With no income since October, getting everyone together for the holidays seemed impossible, until a few puzzle pieces fell into place.

Camden First Baptist Church, KershawHealth Respiratory and KershawHealth Home Health and Hospice pitched in to pay for airplane tickets for Eva and the other three children to visit for Christmas. They arrived the Wednesday before Christmas and planned to stay in town for 10 days.

Cindy said she was also thankful for Dr. David Christenberry and his office staff for helping provide Christmas gifts for her family and St. John’s Methodist Church for adopting John and helping to pay for his diapers and clothes.

The family is living at New Day on Mill, a transitional housing shelter and partnership agency to the Kershaw County United Way.

“New Day on Mill has been a godsend,” Cindy said. “Ms. Harriet (Reid) has been so wonderful for us.”

After being diagnosed with colon cancer, Roy said he discovered he would have to get on disability to pay for the treatments, and he said he wouldn’t have been able to get on disability without the help of Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk.

“I was told I needed to get on Medicaid to pay for my treatments, but to get on Medicaid, I needed to be on disability. I was told that could take up to two years to be approved,” Roy said. “But when Laurie got involved, all the red tape disappeared. The folks at Social Security got it done in three days.”

Roy said even if he couldn’t have gotten on Medicaid, Christenberry would have worked with him.

“He has really been my rock through this,” he said. “Dr. Christenberry was going to write off (a percentage) of my bill if I didn’t get approved. He made this process as easy as it could be for me and my family.”

While Roy said he truly appreciated everyone in the community helping him through his rough time, he said he couldn’t have made it without Cindy.

“My wife has been an instrumental part of keeping this family together and taking care of me,” he said. “She really took this thing by the horns. She listened to everything the doctors said and took charge of the situation. If it wasn’t for her, I’d probably still be laid up in the hospital. She’s kept me grounded.”

Despite everything, Roy said, it’s been an amazing year.

“I’ve learned God provides a way. He will figure out where we need to go from here,” he said. “While I was in the hospital, I had a lot of time to talk with God and I said a lot of prayers.”

Roy said he wasn’t sure if his family would be able to move back to Camden, but he was sure God would take care of them.

“I’m thankful that I’m able to spend this time with them now, and I guess we’ll see what comes with the future,” he said.

 The most surprising thing, Roy said, was the number of people who have come to his side during his time of need.

“I’m from Camden, and I didn’t know so many people around here liked me or cared about me,” he said. “So many people have come by to visit and have offered to pray for me and my family. I’ve been very touched by that. The people in this community have really made all the difference.”

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