Hello, my name is William D. Herndon II. I am a native of Lubbock, TX now living in Jacksonville, FL.
I have found myself in FL by way of my corporate position as an Associate Trainer with a major outsourcing company specializing in Customer and Relationship management working with clients such as bank of America, Capital One, United Health Group, and at&t for the past 10 years.
Here is a bit of my story and how I became involved with Dab the AIDS Bear Project and the HIV/AIDS community….
September 2005, I was given the opportunity to move to Jacksonville, FL to train for MBNA Card Services. The day I was supposed to move to FL, my father passed away. I literally drove from my father’s funeral out to Florida and went right to work. I worked non-stop for about 6 months. I did not take time out to grieve or make sense of anything that was happening. I stopped eating and lost much weight. Soon, March 2006, I developed a stomachache that would not go away. I found a doctor in Jacksonville and was immediately admitted me to the hospital. It was found that my body was taken over by cancerous tumors. My liver was swollen to the point it was pressing against my stomach. This was causing the stomach pain. It also had so many holes in it that it looked like Swiss cheese according to my doctors. The cancer was eating away my liver. Through further testing it was also found that I was HIV positive. Not only did I have cancer but I had HIV as well. It was not looking good for me. My T-Cell (CD4) count was 30. Meaning I had no immune system.
A person without HIV usually has a level of about 700 to1000. I was very pale and emaciated looking. I am 6’3” tall and was 130 -104lbs. The doctors pumped me full of medication for about two weeks in the hospital and then sent me home. They had done all they could do for me in the hospital. I was encouraged to have chemotherapy to fight against the cancer and hope it would keep me alive. At that point, I was not sure I wanted to live. I asked if the chemotherapy would kill me. They told me it could possibly give me a heart attack. I said, “Let’s do it.” I wanted the chemotherapy to give me a heart attack so I could die quickly and not suffer the pain I was experiencing. My biggest fear was coming true. I was going to die alone. I was experiencing so many feelings. I am not able to explain them all. I now knew what other people who were suffering from HIV were going through. Being alone. Not one family member visited me during my stay in the hospital.
One day after a chemotherapy treatment, I was lying in my bed praying to God to either bring me something that was going to help me with the pain or take me into his arms in heaven. “Please God, one or the other.” A moment later there was a knock on my door. It was my landlord’s contractor coming to do some work on the plumbing in my apartment. He saw how I was feeling and asked if I was into nutrition. At that point my life changed. I started learning about nutrition and vitamins and minerals and what they could do for the body. I have now changed career paths and am a Certified Wellness Consultant. Through counseling and research of how I can make a difference for others I came across Dab the AIDS Bear. I truly believe in the mission of this project in helping people in the UNITED STATES get what is needed to live a quality life. My goal is to help as many people as I can learn about nutrition and wellness and raise enough money possible so every person with HIV/AIDS is cared for.
For some reason I am supposed to be here on this earth a while longer. I am discovering what that reason is and how I can make a difference in other people’s lives. I still struggle with my anger toward family members and fear of what others may think of me upon their discovery of my HIV. However, I am learning the all that matters is God loves me. I know it in my heart and not one person can take His love away from me.
This is my story, so far…
William D. Herndon II