Cathy Williams says the cancer patients at Grady Memorial Hospital are full of questions. They want to know if their chemotherapy and radiation treatments will cause them to lose their hair or gain weight. They want to know what to do when the treatments make them nauseous.
And Williams, who survived ovarian cancer and whose daughter survived brain cancer, is more than qualified to field their questions.
Williams started volunteering at Grady in April. Once a week for three to four hours, Williams brings cookies and juice to patients at Grady's infusion center, where they receive intravenous fluids or blood transfusions. She talks to the cancer patients about what they are going through and what they can expect. When they have questions that she doesn't know the answer to, Williams does research in the hospital library.
"When I had cancer, it meant so much to me to meet people who had survived," Williams says. "It really does help you when you're going through chemotherapy and don't feel good to see somebody that's been through it and made it out OK."
Williams was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in January 2001, after she went to the hospital complaining of back pain. Her daughter, Amelia, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was diagnosed in 2004 after several years of suffering from what doctors initially believed were migraine headaches. Both women underwent multiple surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy and radiation before doctors were satisfied with their recovery.
Ovarian cancer is easily overlooked. Its symptoms -- abdominal pain, constipation, bloating -- are often associated with less serious ailments. That's why Williams, in addition to her work at the Grady infusion center, joins a group of fellow ovarian cancer survivors every three to four weeks to share her story with third-year Emory and Morehouse medical students, in the hopes that it will raise their awareness of the disease.
In conjunction with Creative Loafing's Give & Get program, HiFi Buys Amphitheatre is giving Williams two box-seat tickets to any 2006 concert at the HiFi Buys Amphitheatre to thank her for all of her work at the hospital.
Every week in December we will profile a recipient of CL's Give & Get Program. To see the list of donated items and learn how you can help, visit Atlanta.creativeloafing.com/giveget.