‘Journey’ documented in book reveals spiritual perspective

April 5, 2014

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, things tend to get real.

Not everyone deals with such life-threatening challenges in the same way.

In the current faith-based movie “God’s Not Dead” there is a gut-crushing scene featuring actress Trisha LaFache.

She plays a non-Christian “ambush” blogger who suddenly feels the impact of being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Being dumped by her cruel boyfriend, played by Dean Cain, adds to her shock and despair.

The character, Amy Ryan, was sitting at her computer trying to start writing her next blog when death’s blunt reality struck.

After deleting the first line she had typed, she wrote instead that she is dying. She cried out into thin air as she slumped to the floor.

A Granbury man’s amazing perspective on facing death was captured in a 2011 book titled, “Cancer Chronicles: One Man’s Journey to Glorify God Through Illness.”

Freelance writer Melissa Williams of Granbury compiled and edited a series of emails that her father, Bill Williams, sent to friends and family after he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in December 2004.

The emails describe undergoing chemotherapy and having a stem cell transplant. He lost his battle with cancer at age 56 on Aug. 17, 2007.

“His journey is about knowing how to live in preparation for eternity … so it teaches how to live and die,” Melissa Williams said this week.

Here’s one example of Bill Williams’ remarkable Christian perspective on his looming death, from Letter 9 in the book:

“Jan (his wife) and I remain thankful for all that the Lord has brought our way this past year, including my illness. God has used this illness to further sanctify us and prepare us to spend eternity with him. We’ve learned to be grateful for the smallest blessings and to appreciate each and every day He’s given us.”

The book also reveals that he experienced the same human emotions anyone else might.

In Letter 2, Williams recalled one particular day he struggled with “every one of” his beliefs, stating, “Never have I seen a deeper black hole or a more fiery-hell than what my mind experienced that day.”

He continued, “I cannot fathom anyone experiencing that kind of darkened day without the strength of Christ.”

Melissa said she realized the emails were uplifting and inspirational, “and demonstrate the power of faith in God during trials of any kind.”

In a Father’s Day column in the June 19, 2010 issue of the Hood County News, Melissa wrote that her father’s death left her feeling “disoriented, alone, afraid and hopeless.”

Melissa recently explained that the email compilation isn’t meant to focus attention on her father.

She indicated he would have “loathed” such attention because he was humble – although “God had bigger ideas” for the touching messages.

“It’s really about glorifying God through the trials in your life,” said Melissa, 36, a 1995 Granbury High School graduate. “He was always that way. His heart was just on fire the last 20 years of his life – on fire for Christ.”

Melissa, who earned a BA degree in Broadcast Journalism from Texas Tech University in 1998, self-published the book through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. It’s available online at Amazon.com (try searching by title, not the author).

Melissa said the idea wasn’t to make money.

“My goal was to give away as many copies as possible to friends and family, but I also ended up giving copies to people who didn’t know him,” Melissa stated. “When I got to the point where I needed to charge for them, I sold them at cost for $3.50. I’d intended for any profits to go to the multiple myeloma foundation and printing more books.

“It was more about getting copies out to people in hopes of helping encourage others. I’d still like to be able to give copies to hospitals and cancer centers in the waiting rooms so people might pick up (and) see how walking through their illness with God is the answer, and give them hope.”

Unlike the dying journalist in “God’s Not Dead,” Bill Williams was comforted knowing he was headed for a better place – with God.

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