“I’m not exactly sure of the season or direction that God is moving me into, but I do know I need help with my every day journey. I believe God put us here together to be in community with one another to help each other out.” And she has not fought alone.
Meet our featured warrior, the “Oprah” of Bulverde, Texas: Channel Williams.
Talk to her friends and family and the message is always the same: Channel Williams lives to help others. Her husband Tommy said, “The kids and I know that a quick trip to the grocery store will be anything but quick! She’s not like most people who will just say “hello” in passing. She genuinely cares about what’s going on in others life’s and always lends an ear.”
Debbie Burke, lovingly called Mimi by Channel, added “I met Channel in a Sunday school class many years ago and we adopted each other. I have always been amazed at her willingness to help others and use her God given gift of counseling to console people. Complete strangers are drawn to her to share their story because she has that gift.” Channel turned the local Starbucks into her office, telling anyone in need of a friend “let’s meet and talk.” Friend Tracy Martin added, the funny thing about her Starbucks office is Channel doesn’t even drink coffee.
Making people feel important and developing relationships is also evident in the way she celebrates Christmas with her children. Instead of material gifts, Channel takes each of her kids on a 1 on 1 trip.
Channel began instructing boot camps in 2009 with just 4 members. In September 2014, Channel teamed up with her husband, Tommy, to open aMAZEn Bootcamp and Iron Antler CrossFit in Bulverde, Texas. The gym currently has over 500 members.
Tracy was one of the original boot campers. Having just moved to the area Tracy tried the boot camp, she hated the first day but was instantly drawn to Channel who quickly became her lifeline. Tracy was struck by how much Channel truly cared about her and others. Channel helped Tracy through hard times by having Tracy text her 10 gratefuls every day. If Channel hadn’t heard from Tracy by night she’d get a text from Channel, “Martin, waiting on you. Where are your gratefuls?”
In the fall of 2013 Channel was in the best shape of her life. Her and Tommy were recently married and were enjoying spending weekends running local 5ks and listening to country music. So when she started to become out of breath trying to finish sentences Channel knew something was wrong. A doctor’s visit led to a diagnosis of lung cancer. Channel was sent for an MRI because the type of cancer often spreads to the brain. Before her MRI friends and family held a prayer vigil. Results came back that the cancer had not spread. Treatment was the removal of half her lung and, because the cancer was found in her lymph nodes, 16 weeks of chemo. At her 3 month check there was no sign of cancer. At 6 months doctors found 4 brain tumors and a spot on her heart. Channel was in brain surgery within 48 hours. She has continued to fight, chasing tumors with radiation, clinical trials, and undergoing additional brain surgeries in October 2016 and May 2017.
Tommy has been her biggest advocate accompanying her to appointments, her nurses have become friends, and her gym family has been there through it all. The gym put up a billboard sign near their gym to encourage Channel. They participated in the American Lung Association Lung Force Walk, raising so much money that the award for the top fundraising company team has been officially named the “Channel Williams Award.” They’ve met to pray for Channel prior to scans and surgeries, cleaned her house, cooked dinners, and taken Channel out of the house for reasons other than doctors’ appointments. Tracy and Jordan, Channel’s daughter, have helped with the day to day running of the gym.
Cancer has not altered Channel’s focus on others. Again, friends and family have shared countless stories describing how she has continued to reach out to others, organize fundraisers, and maintain a care calendar. When a young girl Channel met in treatment was sent home for hospice care Channel messaged her large group of friends and had the girls’ house cleaned in hours so the family could bring her home. Tommy said, “I’m not going to lie, she does a good job putting on a happy front for most of the world to see. She seldom complains about the cards she has been dealt. But don’t let the smile and lack of complaints fool you, there have been many dark days along this journey. I’m sure there are many fighters in her position who can relate. Although there have been many dark days, she has never lost her warrior spirit! Nor has she lost her desire to go above and beyond to help others in their own battles and struggles.” Tracy added, “Channel gets knocked off course but always gets back on like who’s in need?”
Earlier this month Channel was diagnosed with an aneurysm in her aorta, but she continues to reach out and help others. Debbie said, "just last week she had a friend (and original boot camper) share with her that she was such an inspiration to her while she had gone through a very traumatic experience while on a mission trip out of the country. By the next morning Channel had reached out to some of her friends to organize food for this young woman’s family for a couple of weeks as she is recovering. She just sees a need and jumps in.”
Channel has inspired many to be a better person by the way she lives and approaches life. “If I’m grumpy pants, I’ll probably make everyone around me grumpy. If I’m accepting of others and helpful and loving I believe I’ll attract those relationships and situations. I want to try my very best to live with expectancy that I’m going to wake up feeling better tomorrow.”