Pat Williams: Mission Accomplished

Pat Williams: Mission Accomplished

Melissa Nappi, Entertainment Editor

Confused, overwhelmed and shocked Pat Williams, co-founder of The Orlando Magic and motivational speaker, sat in his doctor’s office after receiving the news that he had an incurable blood cancer called multiple myeloma. As questions swirled in his head and information washed over him he asked, “What was the goal if this cancer is incurable?” His doctor answered in one word: remission. “The mission is remission” became the slogan that Williams began to live his life by.

Multiple myeloma is a form of blood cancer. It affects the plasma cells (white blood cells) in bone marrow. The plasma cells in a myeloma patient multiply at such a fast rate that they become useless and inhibit the functions of the other blood cells. There are two things that make myeloma so frightening: the seemingly random way it strikes and the fact that there is no actual cancer site. There are no concrete risk factors for multiple myeloma; experts have no clue if it is genetic or environmental. The diagnosis is simply that one has multiple myeloma. Unlike other cancers there is no site, no one place where the cancer lives and therefore no place to specifically attack.

Yet, multiple myeloma is treatable. In last the 20 years, great strides have been made in the field of myeloma research. It was this research that benefitted Williams when he was diagnosed in 2011. Treatment for multiple myeloma is aggressive and ongoing but it shouldn’t stop a person from going about their life. “I lucked out with treatment reactions. I didn’t have the adverse reactions that most people have. I needed more sleep then and I still need it now; Nothing that couldn’t be handled with a nap,” Williams explains how he handled treatment and a full schedule.

Along with his many accomplishments (including being in the first induction class of The Magic Hall of Fame), Williams is a noted author and when it can time to write his next book it was easy to decide on a topic as well as the title.“The Mission is Remission: Hope for Battling Cancer” was published this year– just in time to celebrate the news that Williams was in fact in remission.

“My hope for the book is to give people courage in their battle. I want this to be a book of hope. Cancer is not a death sentence. I want to encourage people to fight. A can do spirit makes all the difference,” Williams said of the book.

In the book Williams describes his hope that this book will help not only people fighting cancer but also people who may one day find themselves sitting in a doctor’s office, just he as did. According to statistics, 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer and 1 in 3 women will be faced with their own cancer battle. This book is about helping people prepare for their possible fight with cancer.

When Williams was first diagnosed, Dr. Robert Reynolds told him that he had the six things that would help him beat this cancer: a positive attitude, the ability to keeping fit, a durable faith, a loving family, caring friends and a supportive community. These six things became the basis for the book.

As a public figure, Williams felt that it was important for him to talk about his cancer battle, “I have been thrust into the cancer world. The lord has allowed me to help others.  I can be an encourager. This isn’t a fight I would have volunteered myself for but I want to help others any way I can.”  Some people view cancer as a death sentence; Williams sees it as a call to action.

While Dr. Reynolds alluded to the Orlando community and the Magic basketball team William never expected the out pouring of kindness and affection that greeted the announcement of his diagnosis. “Games or just in general people are always asking how I am. Knowing people care goes a long way when you’re fighting cancer. The more people who care about me and show support has left me with the need to not disappoint them they are invested in my health,” Williams explained how the fans reaction helped push him to fight and work harder.

William has been and always will be busy. He doesn’t know any other way to be and says, “On my list of things to do cancer is about eighth or ninth on the list. I take my meds in the morning and at night and that is as sick as my schedule let’s me be and I am fine with that.” His doctors helped him schedule his chemotherapy appointments around his speaking engagements and after 25 years he is still very involved in the day to day operations of The Magic.

At 73 years-old he shows no sign of slowing down as he has more books and speaking engagements to come. If the mission is remission than consider this mission accomplished.