Dexter Williams has been on a mission for his mother, Cheryl Williams, since he came back from an early-season suspension. Cheryl’s health is in decline after battling myasthenia gravis, a terminal illness, since 2006 per the Indy Star. Early in 2018, Cheryl was also diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension and was given three to five years to live with the help of medication.
“I don’t do numbers that way,” Cheryl told the Indy Star. “I don’t accept that. I don’t think anybody knows what tomorrow holds, so I’m not living to die or trying to live my life around the idea that I’ve got five years.”
Here’s how Web MD explains pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension, or PAH, means the pressure is too high inside the blood vessels in your lungs. It’s a very serious condition that can change your day-to-day life…It’s a short distance from your heart to your lungs. So normally, the right side doesn’t have to pump very hard. But with PAH, blood doesn’t move freely through the arteries in your lungs. Your heart works much harder to force it through. Over time, the heart muscle gets weak. It can become enlarged and stop working properly. When your blood doesn’t flow well, your body doesn’t get enough oxygen.
Dexter Williams’ Mom Moved to South Bend to be With Her Son as He Served a Suspension
Dexter began the season on the bench as he served a suspension for undisclosed reasons. Despite her health challenges, Cheryl moved to South Bend to be with her son. Dexter’s family lives in the Orlando area where the running back was a standout player at nearby West Orange High School.
“I just needed to make sure that he was good,” Cheryl told Indy Star. “I know how important playing is for him and I know how hard it is when there’s something that you really want to do really bad and you can’t do it because I’ve been there physically. There are days with esthemia where I can’t walk, I can’t take care of myself. I didn’t want him to have to go through this by himself.”
Part of the challenge for Cheryl is a weakened immune system. It makes her more susceptible to serious illness after catching something that would be minor for most people like a common cold.
“Where you get a sniffle or a little cold, you can take something and you’re good,” Cheryl explained to ND Insider. “For me, it will turn into pneumonia overnight. On a good day, I can be active for up to 30 or 40 minutes. After that I have to stop. After that my body will shut down…But I don’t let me illness define me. I don’t let the way I feel from day to day define how I’m going to be with anybody. You will always see me with a smile on my face and never know if I’m sick or well.”
Cheryl has served as an inspiration to her son despite battling a terminal illness. It is no coincidence that Dexter is having his best season yet in 2018. Heading into the Cotton Bowl, the Notre Dame running back rushed for 941 yards and 12 touchdowns despite only playing in eight games.