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Effingham Magazine

Nevaeh Williams: Not Her Final Destination

By: Kelly Harley | Photos By: Michelle Holloway 


It’s Saturday, and 11-year-old Nevaeh Williams is enjoying a movie with her best friend, Rosie. Like any typical fifth-grader, spending time with her friends is a weekend highlight. What’s not typical is the way Nevaeh thinks. Most kids her age don’t understand how precious each day is because most don’t know what it’s like to learn you have a 15-percent chance of living five years. 

A Force to Be Reckoned With 

Nevaeh’s infectious smile, her studious poise and her mature-beyond-her-years attitude captivates you. It’s hard to believe that at eight years old, doctors diagnosed her with desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT), an aggressive and rare type of cancer. Her mom, Alana Williams, remembers when they noticed something wasn’t right. “Nevaeh was doing a cartwheel, and her shirt came up, and I noticed her stomach was really big. It was as hard as a rock,” says Alana. After a second opinion in Atlanta, her family learned what it was and just how serious it was. 

In less than two years, Nevaeh endured 14 cycles of chemotherapy, 20 cycles of radiation, six surgeries and 11 blood transfusions. “I didn’t cry when I found out. I can beat it,” smiles Nevaeh. You can’t help but think it’s her perseverance that has played a role in her health. “She knows how to pray, and she knows God healed her and will keep her healed,” says Alana. 

Nevaeh’s strength is amazing and her love of sports even more. She once scored 16 baskets in one game. “My favorite part of basketball is being aggressive and stealing balls,” says Nevaeh. A valuable member of the Rincon recreational basketball team, she rules the court. Her resume includes travel softball, student council president at South Effingham Elementary School, and class spelling bee champ. 

She is also a proud member of honor roll and has never made anything less than an A. Her cancer was the reason she was homeschooled for about a year and a half. Her immune system was weak because of chemotherapy and so being around other children wasn’t an option. “I was ready to get back to school. I love school, and I like math the best,” says Nevaeh. Her mother did not doubt her abilities. “She is always a high achiever. She came back still above average.” 

A Family Support System

Nevaeh isn’t in this alone. Her family is by her side every step of the way. She has three sisters and one brother, and their bonds are tried and true. Her brother was three days old when her mother noticed her protruding abdomen. “Her brother was her distraction. She didn’t have a dog; she had her brother Draidyn. They have a special bond,” says Alana.  

Alana admits at the beginning it was hard for the entire family including her husband. Between work, a new baby and the active lifestyles of the other children, keeping it all together was a huge challenge. Alana says for a while there was little stability for the children. She had to be in Atlanta with Nevaeh during her treatments and spent much of her time commuting. “We were a close family before, but this brought us closer together,” says Alana. 

The family is also pledging to live a healthier lifestyle to support Nevaeh. They cut out dairy, beef and sugar, and eat more fruits, vegetables and seafood. Alana says they are taking an all-natural approach to Nevaeh’s care instead of having her take an oral chemo pill. Between diet, essential oils, Epson salt baths and vitamins, Nevaeh has 18 months of being cancer-free. It isn’t common to remain cancer-free this long for people with her type of cancer. 

Making a Difference 

Nevaeh is an inspiration to so many people. Her mother maintains her Facebook page, Nevaeh’s Victory Against Cancer, which has more than 8,500 followers. It journeys her fight against cancer, her inspiring moments and her courageous endeavors. During the holidays, Nevaeh made it her mission to help a child going through cancer. She raised money and bought Christmas gifts for the four-year-old boy and his family. “It makes me sad when other kids are diagnosed with cancer. I want to be a nurse so that I can help others.” 

She also wants to be a professional YouTuber. Her mother says she has a good chance because she is always an inspiration to other children. “Her doctors were amazed at how she inspired people. She would dance her way through chemo and have other children dancing with her.” Her mother says she even has plans to help children in another way. Not only did Nevaeh lose her gallbladder, pancreas and spleen, but the chemo also damaged her reproductive organs. She likely will never birth children. “She is going to adopt. She loves children and is good with them,” Alana says with a heartfelt smile. 

Nevaeh is a leader not only in sports and in school but in life. She never wore wigs when she lost her hair and still keeps her hair short. In 2018, she signed with the Georgia Southern softball team. She trains with them, has her own locker in the locker room and gets pointers from some of the best players around. She traveled to Jamaica with her family last June thanks to Make-a-Wish. She’s even rubbed elbows with famous musicians and celebrities. “I got to do a radio show with Ludacris. I met Fifth Harmony, Nick Jonas, Carly Pearce and Brandon Spink,” says Nevaeh. The Atlanta Falcons wore cleats in her honor during Childhood Cancer month. 

Despite all she has been through, Nevaeh says she still feels like a kid. Her innocence shines through and her love of life is evident in how she carries herself. “Your current situation is not your final destination,” she says. What’s fascinating is how humble she is; she has no idea the impact she has on others. 

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