GUYTON, Ga. (WSAV) — An Effingham County preteen has conquered COVID-19 amid her second battle with a rare form of cancer.
“If I beat COVID-19, then I can beat cancer,” 11-year-old Nevaeh Williams told WSAV NOW. “I can beat anything that comes my way.”
Nevaeh, who was first diagnosed with a desmoplastic small round cell tumor at 8 years old, caught the virus late last month.
Her family updated followers about the unwelcome news via her Facebook page, Nevaeh’s Victory Against Cancer, on Dec. 30.
Nevaeh’s mother, Alana Simmons-Williams, says doctors in Atlanta realized something was wrong during a routine CT scan.
“They noticed that it looked like she had COVID-19, they could see it in her chest,” Simmons-Williams said.
“They said that it kind of looked like glass, so they sent her back up to the clinic where she normally sees her doctor to have a COVID-19 test, and sure enough, she tested positive,” she said, adding that watching her daughter deal with the virus on top of a cancer relapse was her worst fear.
Of the seven people living in the Williams household, five of them, including Nevaeh and her parents, exhibited symptoms.
“I had shortness of breath, a little loss of taste, I could still smell, I just didn’t feel like myself after I knew that I was positive,” said Nevaeh, who has been documenting her second fight with cancer via her YouTube page.
The COVID-19 diagnosis meant that Nevaeh’s scans have been put on hold, potentially for several months.
“As of today, we still don’t know if her body’s responding to treatment or not, that’s still up in the air,” Simmons-Williams said.
The illness also delayed two of Nevaeh’s cancer treatments, which she resumed last Thursday.
“She is doing the chemo treatment at home,” her mother said. “She does one day at the hospital and the rest at home, so we’re currently in the middle of cycle six right now.”
Nevaeh says even after she beat COVID-19, which her family announced on Facebook last week, helping her ill parents and caring for her siblings proved challenging.
“It was pretty rough because after I tested negative, my parents were still positive, and I had to talk to them through the door,” Nevaeh said.
“I had to cook dinner for my siblings — I love cooking, so I didn’t have a problem with that — but it was hard trying to make sure my parents were okay while trying to keep my siblings and myself safe,” she said.
Everyone in Nevaeh’s home is now doing much better and has since tested negative.
While the brave child has since defeated the virus, her mom says the illness has taken a noticeable toll as she resumes her cancer treatments.
“We definitely can tell that her body went through a lot with that COVID-19,” Simmons-Williams said.
“This time after treatment, she was like, her body was hurting, she had some joint pain and she’s tired,” she said.
Still, Nevaeh continues to push through her fight with cancer following a relapse in August of 2020.
Nevaeh’s life update
Since WSAV News 3 last spoke with Nevaeh about her cancer journey, she’s celebrated a few positive life updates.
Most notably, she completed her final radiation treatment in November. She’s reached her lifetime maximum limit of radiation treatment, so she’ll never have to undergo it again.
“The radiation was really rough. I was tired, I could barely walk with myself, I couldn’t get myself dressed, I couldn’t get up,” she recalled, adding, “My mom had to help me really do everything.”
Nevaeh says reaching the milestone feels like a load off of her chest — literally.
A painful side effect of the treatment was the burns it left on the child’s chest. It also impacted Nevaeh’s eating.
“When I swallowed, it kind of felt like my food got stuck for like, maybe three minutes every time I tried to eat food,” she said. “My chest was really itchy and I just couldn’t eat anything because it was so painful to even swallow.”
Her mom says she’s relieved Nevaeh is finished with radiation treatment, which her daughter’s body seemed to have a tougher time handling than chemotherapy.
“We were happy to get through that because we had to stay in Atlanta for three weeks,” Simmons-Williams said.
The Williams family welcomed more good news in December when Nevaeh and her siblings received Nova, a Goldendoodle puppy, for Christmas.
Nevaeh documented the surprise gift on her YouTube channel in a video that shows her screaming and tearing up with excitement.
The family’s goal is to train Nova to become a service animal.
“I decided to pick a puppy breed like the Goldendoodle — they’re commonly known to be loving and great service dogs — to help her get through her treatment,” Nevaeh’s mother shared, adding, “I mean, if she can beat COVID-19, she can beat cancer, she definitely can raise a puppy.”
Given all that Nevaeh’s encountered in her 11 years, she wants to encourage other children who are facing similar cancer battles. She says she hopes documenting her fight on YouTube will help inspire them.
For other children bravely battling cancer, Nevaeh says, “Your current situation is not your destination, and you can get through this.”