Pat Williams: ‘I Hope The Book Makes A Difference For People Who Are Battling Cancer’

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(Credit: Jennifer Pottheiser/Getty Images)

(Credit: Jennifer Pottheiser/Getty Images)

Pat Williams has run 58 marathons, he has 19 children (four by birth, 14 by adoption and one by remarriage) and he’s led the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals five times.

He’s also stared down cancer.

In 2011, Williams, 73, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer. Williams fought the disease in the days and weeks and months to come and discusses his journey, among other topics, in his new book, The Mission is Remission: Hope for Battling Cancer.

“It’s not my favorite topic, believe me,” the Orlando Magic senior vice president said on The John Feinstein Show. “But I felt after three years with this myeloma battle, I was ready to relax and tell my story – (and) more importantly to help others who are struggling with this illness or any form of cancer or getting ready to struggle with cancer.

“One out of two men in our country will end up with a cancer battle somewhere in their life. One out of three women (will too). So I think it’s pretty good advice to get ready for your cancer battle.”

Williams remembers the day his doctor, Robert Reynolds, diagnosed him with cancer.

“He said, ‘You’re going to do well with this,’” Williams recalled. “‘I don’t know you, but I’ve followed your career and know who you are, and you’re going to do well with it.’ And then he proceeded to tell me why I would do well with it – and he was clairvoyant on that.”

This is Williams’ 88th book.

“It was fascinating to write and therapeutic to write, and the early feedback has been very encouraging,” Williams said. “I had gotten so many calls and emails from people when we broke the news, I thought if I could condense all of that into a book form, it might be really valuable.

“For example, I would love to get the book into Tom Brokaw’s hands, and we learned a few weeks ago he now is a multiple myeloma guy. It’s a kind of rare cancer, but gosh, the way people have reached out, I don’t think it’s all that rare. I’m hearing from people all the time who are dealing with it. I’m going to send them a book right away. (I’m going to) sign it and get it off to them, and I hope that that’s valuable to them.

“So yeah, it’s therapeutic in many ways, but more importantly, I hope it makes a difference for people who are battling cancer.”

Feinstein, whose brother beat cancer, noted that the disease is no longer the death sentence it once was, but the diagnosis can still be devastating.

“It can really get people down. It can get them discouraged. It can really put them on the sideline of life,” Williams said. “And one of the things I’m sharing in this book (is), don’t get on the sidelines. Stay involved, stay active, keep doing your job, keep doing your work, stay engaged with your hobbies – as you best you can physically. Don’t quit on life. Don’t give up, and don’t surrender.”

In the wake of his diagnosis, Williams experienced stunned disbelief and feelings of doubt.

“You struggle with all of those issues, believe me,” he said. “But somewhere along the line, there was a wake-up call.”

For Williams, that wake-up call came via a nurse, who suggested he visit with other cancer patients who weren’t doing as well as he was.

“That may have been the best piece of advice that came anywhere in this journey,” Williams said. “So I started to do that, and it made me feel a whole lot more engaged and better and hopefully brought them some uplift in their life. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

“That nurse was a big help to me.”

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