Magic exec brings awareness to multiple myeloma
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - The always upbeat Pat Williams said Wednesday he plans to beat the blood cancer he has been diagnosed with and has started an aggressive treatment.
The longtime Orlando Magic executive was diagnosed with blood multiple myeloma, an incurable, but treatable blood cancer. The 70-year-old Williams was diagnosed with the disease after taking a routine physical early in January. The vice president of the Magic is, as always, optimistic about his chances of beating the disease.
At an appearance Wednesday, Williams wore a T-shirt with the slogan: "The mission is remission.''
"I am going to beat this,'' Williams said at a press conference attended by more than half of his 19 children, 14 of which were adopted from countries all over the world. "I am fully engaged with the activities that bring me joy and fulfillment.
"I don't think you want me to sit around sucking my thumb and bemoaning my problems. I'm going to go on with my life as normal as I'm able.''
Williams, who previously served as general manager for the Magic and three other NBA franchises in his 40-plus year career, is receiving chemotherapy treatments twice-a-week while taking medicine that his doctor said is designed to hone in on malignant cells.
"I expect Pat to be able to live with this for many years,'' said Dr. Robert Reynolds, the specialist treating Williams. "People diagnosed with this disease in the 1980s and '90s were looking at short life expectations, but with the treatment available now, people commonly live for many years.''
Williams has been an executive in the NBA since becoming general manager of the Chicago Bulls in 1969. He served in that same role for the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers before moving to Orlando to help establish the expansion franchise.
He is credited with bringing an NBA franchise to Orlando in 1989, and he became a staple at the NBA lottery after representing the Magic in back-to-back appearances. Williams was there when the team landed the No. 1 pick in the 1992 draft (eventually selecting Shaquille O'Neal) and in 1993 (Penny Hardaway). When he was general manager of the 76ers, he drafted Charles Barkley, Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney and traded for Julius Erving and Moses Malone.
He has spent the past 17 years working as a senior vice president for the Magic and doing motivational public speaking. He has written 65 books and run in 55 marathons, including Boston, Chicago and New York.
He said he's keeping a daily journal on how his life changes during treatments for the disease.
"I'm not having any violent reactions to the chemotherapy or anything else yet,'' he said. "It does leave you a little depleted and tired so I'm sleeping a little more.
"But I've always felt there was one more chapter left in my life, maybe a grand finale. Perhaps that is what we're seeing now. I'm being called to a new ministry of hope and help to others.''