Cancer is something that should never be taken lightly, even after the battle is won. Even after being cancer free for three years, Sean Williams’ life is still affected to this day.
Tyler: What kind of toll did the cancer take on you, what was the recovery process like?
Sean: You may reach the point where you’re cancer free such as I have. January 28th made my third year anniversary for being cancer free. But with a lot of people don’t really realize is that once you are diagnosed with cancer, this is something you have for the rest of your life. Not necessarily cancer but there’s always the lingering possibility that the cancer can return. So it’s not something that you’re ever going to fully be away from. Now, I’ve met, talked to, and have dealt with a lot of people over the 3 or 4 years now, and that can absolutely keep you up at night, the possibility of going through what you went through again.
I’ve heard the stories of people that were diagnosed with cancer and went through the chemo, they knocked on Death’s door, they were deemed cancer free, they went on for years later to get diagnosed with cancer and 6 months they’re dead.
You have to live your life. When I speak to people about cancer all the time there’s an instant right there when you’re in that hospital bed, you’re looking at a doctor, and in my case I had my wife on one hand beside holding my hand, and the doctor on the other side of the hospital bed and, there’s an instant right there that drastically affects the rest of your life. That doctor looks you in the eye and says, “Mr. Williams, you have cancer”. In that moment, even whether you realize that I’m not, you make a choice, and again (the situation) it’s real.
In that instant you make a choice, you either get busy living, or you get busy dying, one or the other.
I feel very fortunate in that I never struggled with my decisions or where I was in the process. I knew that I had a disease that is the number three killer of men in my age, and at my ethnical demographic. Colon cancer is the number three killer of guys my age, I knew that. I absolutely had no interest whatsoever in hearing the statistics, I don’t care about all of that, the only thing that I care about is in me. How am I going to deal with this? How am I going to see to it that I watch my 6 month old son grow up.
Any time that I need a reminder of exactly where I’ve been all I’ve got to do is look down, because I’ll live the rest of my life with an colostomy bag because of cancer, and that’s a real pain in the ass for somebody as vain as me.
I’ve been married to my beautiful, incredible wife almost 23 years now, and I took a lot of pride in being visually appealing to my wife. I try to be someone that she didn’t have to make herself wake up to every morning. Having this little thing hanging off of me changes the visual dynamic of that, but you have to take it in context. In a lot of ways that one little thing saved my life at one point. It’s a pain in the ass having to buy medical supplies every so often but if it keeps me alive it’s something that you learn to live with. There’s a lot worse things I could have come out of this deal with than just that.
Sean held on to the Saints knowing they wouldn’t let him down. The first jersey he received, Drew Brees, he wore everywhere. Whether that be every visit to the hospital or just getting out of surgery, if you saw Sean at that time, he was proudly wearing Black and Gold.
Tyler: Would you say now you appreciate everything in your life that much more?
Sean: Absolutely. Without a doubt. Going through what we go through it changes things, it really does, it changes the way that you look at everything, it changes the way you perceive everything. You learn more about yourself than anything that I’ve ever experienced before and probably more than anything else I ever will experience. People think that I’m just absolutely out of my mind when I say this, but cancer was a really really bad thing.
I can remember points, low points being while I was diagnosed I weighed 185 pounds and was pretty solid because I worked outside doing construction, I was in really good shape. That was in October, and from October to February, I went down to 112 pounds. I looked like walking death, but I say that to say this, I tell people all the time I wouldn’t take anything in the world for what I experienced because, I think in a lot of ways it helped to make me a better husband, it helped to make me a better dad, it helped to make me a better person. I appreciate little things more. You learn really quick to see things for what they are, and to see what really does matter, and what doesn’t matter. To appreciate every day, because there’s a step in the process where your only focus is to get up, do what you’re supposed to do, go to bed that night, and just pray to God that you’re going to be blessed with the opportunity to do it again tomorrow. If anyone that can’t have a greater appreciation for what they have through this process isn’t human.