One year ago, I wrote several articles about NBA Orlando Magic executive Pat Williams, and his unexpected multiple myeloma diagnosis:
Pat and I spoke on the phone and exchanged emails a number of times. At one point, I was planning to make a trip over to Orlando to shoot a pair of PSAs; one to help raise multiple myeloma awareness among the general public, and one to raise awareness among medical professionals.
The second PSA was designed to help emergency room nurses and physicians–as well as general practitioners–watch for tell tale signs and symptoms which could be myeloma related.
I was working with caregiver blogger, Lore Puente, and the son of a myeloma patient, David Withem, on the project. We all shared the belief that an informed, front-line medical community might help identify myeloma sooner if they knew what to look for. That would then help prevent newly symptomatic myeloma patients from progressing to the point that their kidneys might fail or their bone damage might get worse.
But last spring, I lost touch with Mr. Williams. He seemed a bit down and distant. I was preparing for a stem cell transplant, so we agreed to delay the project indefinitely.
All were disappointed, But I could tell that Mr. Williams heart was just not in it.
Now I understand why. Yesterday I read an article in the Orlando Sentinel about Mr. Williams:
Magic founder Pat Williams is battling cancer like an All-Star
Without him, there would be no All-Star Game in Orlando
CLICK HERE to read the article.
Since the NBA All Star game is in Orlando this weekend, the article is a timely update into Mr. Williams condition.
But with that in mind, they buried the lead: Mr. Williams chemo wasn’t working well, and he had undergone a stem cell transplant.
Really? Sports writer, Mike Bianchi, does a more than credible job describing the procedure and what Mr. Williams experienced before, during and after his transplant.
And of course Mr. Williams spent less time recuperating than most mere mortals–that’s part of his inspirational persona.
What saddens me a bit is that he never felt comfortable enough to reach-out to me for help. I just wrote a book about the process, Stem Cell Transplants from a Patient’s Perspective, for God’s sake.
I could have helped him explore his options (I’m not familiar with any well know myeloma experts in the Orlando area) and helped him understand what to expect.
It sounds like everything turned-out OK. Mr. Williams seems to be recovering nicely–and I hope his transplant helps control his myeloma for a very long time.
But why do we humans tend to want to do things the hard way? I can’t help but wonder who he consulted (Someone at Mayo or Dana-Farber or UAMS) while making his treatment decisions.
Did he get the help of others who have “been there, done that” at a support group? Read helpful books (like mine) to better prepare for what lay ahead?
I’m not a part of his family or his medical team. He didn’t ask for my help. But I offered several times. I’m just disappointed that he didn’t feel comfortable enough to take me up on my offer.
Good luck Mr. Williams! Members of the myeloma patient community are here to help if you ever have questions or need to talk.
Pat Williams is an important, positive and inspirational larger-than-life type of guy. I’m just glad that things like support groups, the Myeloma Beacon, IMF, independent online sites like mine and the wonderful myeloma List/Serve email community are available for the rest of us.
I hope that Mr. Williams was/is able to find help and solace as he faces a daunting number of myeloma-related medical challenges. Because there are so many wonderful sources of help and information available for myeloma patients and caregivers these days!
I know that I couldn’t hold-it-all-together and make it without the help of my many friends in the myeloma community.
And I’m very thankful for that.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat