Williams heads to Washington to support cancer research
Posted September 10, 2013
One year after receiving a phone call that changed his life, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill head basketball coach Roy Williams will join hundreds of cancer patients, survivors and volunteers in the nation's capital on Tuesday to lobby lawmakers for more cancer research funds.
Williams told WRAL News that he's become more involved with the push for cancer research in the last year because his own cancer scare changed his outlook. Williams had surgery Sept. 19, 2012, to remove a benign tumor from his right kidney.
"I was on the road recruiting and I get the call, and he tells me I have renal cancer," Williams said. "It was a scare, no question. It changed my world, and it changed the world of my whole family for 24 days."
Williams said he's hoping Tuesday's visit to Washington, D.C, will help push lawmakers to provide more funding for cancer research.
Chris Hansen, the president of the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network, said he thinks lawmakers may welcome a conversation that isn't about Syria.
"People might be relieved to talk about something else," Hansen said. "They all agree with us about the need to fund cancer research, the issue is that there is a sequester in place. Still, this is something the country needs to do."
Hansen said about 580,000 Americans will die in 2013 from cancer. Williams said his experience with the Coaches vs Cancer program, which turns college coaches into cancer research advocates, is what first brought his attention to the need for more research funds.
"It's always been extremely important to me," he said. "Hopefully we'll be able to bring some attention and get the research dollars we need."
After surgery and tests determined that the tumor on Williams' right kidney wasn't cancerous, doctors decided in September 2012 not to surgically remove a similar growth from Williams' left kidney.
"I was very blessed because both tumors turned out to be benign," Williams said. "I feel good. I'm excited about our season coming up."