Tamica Williams

In our last article, we shared a personal story from Lawrenceville’s Associate Chief of Police, Tasha Brown. She explained that knowing her family health history impacted her life in a major way. Officer Brown also encouraged readers to share their personal health history with relatives, because you never know who may be going through similar health issues as you. This inspired Tamica Williams, Board Member of Central Virginia Health Services (CVHS) and resident of Meredithville, Virginia to share her story about family health history.

Q: Why did you decide to learn more about your family health history?

A: At the age of 12, I was in a car accident and started experiencing several health complications. I had a bump on my head, paralysis, major headaches, constant pain, tingling, and numbness. After a year of testing in Richmond, Virginia, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). My diagnosis went from relapsing-remitting to primary-progressive as I got older and I could no longer work, because of my health condition.

Then, I started to experience more health problems. I thought to myself, this cannot all be Multiple Sclerosis (MS). At the time, I had a young son and needed to know more, not just for myself, but also for his well-being. This is when I started my family health history journey.

Q: How did knowing your family health history impact your own life?

A: I was aware of my mother’s heart disease and fibromyalgia, but a deeper look into my family health history revealed other health problems that run in my family. High blood pressure, numerous cancers, sickle cell (which I found out that I have the trait too), deep depression, anxiety and panic attacks are common in my family. This information helps me understand what to look for and be proactive on the illnesses I know about instead of being reactive to a diagnosis. I've been on this family health history journey for years to find physical and mental health history and it’s helped me be proactive with some of my new diagnosis like kidney disease, high cholesterol and borderline diabetes. My family health history journey has also helped my son, niece and brother be proactive too as they all have been diagnosed with anxiety which is in line with our family health history.

Q: Why would you encourage others to share information about their health history with family members?

A: It is better to know than to not know. Share your personal health history with family, so they can get ahead of any possible arising health concerns by giving accurate family health history information to their doctor. This helps doctors give more precise medical advice for prevention, screenings and treatment. I know many times we feel like health care is too expensive, but use your community resources.

National Community Health Center Week is August 7 – 13, so it is a great time for me to highlight community health centers like CVHS Brunswick that have great doctors, are very affordable and serve anyone in the community. I am honored to serve on the board at Central Virginia Health Services (CVHS). We have a great team that truly cares about the well-being of patients and staff. CVHS Brunswick is in the community to support you and your family's health now and in the future.

CVHS Brunswick is located at 8380 Boydton Plank Road, Alberta, VA 23821 where the health center offers medical care and dental services. Tele-behavioral health services are available through your phone, computer or tablet. Anyone is welcome and there is a sliding scale fee (discount) available to qualified patients, which is based on income and family size. Schedule an appointment with CVHS Brunswick by calling (434) 949-7211.

Did this week's Q&A resonate with you or do you have a story of your own about family health history that you are willing to share? If so, please contact Teya Whitehead, Coordinator, Massey Cancer Research and Resource Center, 221 N. Main Street, Lawrenceville, VA 23868, engagemassey@vcu.edu, (434) 532-8190.