The last year-plus has been quite the whirlwind for former Georgia Military College athletic director/head football coach Bert Williams.

He’s gone from a cancer diagnosis in late 2019, to chemotherapy, to remission, to retirement from his longtime career, to more chemotherapy followed by a bone marrow transplant and extended hospital stay, to some time spent as a transient Atlanta resident while he underwent further observation. 

Earlier this month, Williams was allowed to return to his home on Lake Sinclair sooner than expected and focus on recovery. A big threshold is approaching on that recovery front as his 100th day since the bone marrow transplant is Saturday. With that milestone comes more testing scheduled for early next week as his doctors at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta will see how the new marrow is progressing and check Williams’ remission status. 

“I’m feeling good,” Williams told The Union-Recorder by phone Wednesday. “It’s been nice to be home even though I still have to be isolated. It’s a long process with this bone marrow transplant, so it’s kind of baby steps all along the way. The body does a lot of work to bring on the new marrow and have it do what it needs to do.”

The winningest head football coach in GMC junior college football history passed another milestone this week, as Wednesday marked his 52nd birthday. He received a socially-distanced visit from some of the Bulldog Athletics coaches and staff, something he enjoyed very much after being physically cut off from nearly everyone outside his family for an extended period of time. 

“I’ve had several visits at the house on the back patio here,” Williams said talking about his home. “It’s been great to see the people I’ve been able to see, and I’m looking forward to doing the same with others in town because I miss seeing everybody. It’s been a long time since Nov. 1 when I went into isolation before going to Emory.”

Prior to his mantle cell lymphoma diagnosis, “fragile” is not a word anyone would have used to describe Williams who stood eye-to-eye with many of his gargantuan football players, but now he falls into the same category as many Americans who simply cannot afford to get COVID-19 due to underlying conditions. It’s for that reason visits are restricted to the Williams’ outdoor patio with everyone involved well spread out and masked. The former football coach is very much looking forward to the time when it’s his turn to receive the COVID vaccine so he can get out and about a little more.

For the past two decades of his life, this time of year for Williams has been reserved for running a collegiate athletic department and preparing for spring football. This February has obviously been very different. 

“It’s been good to be able to focus on recovery and health rather than focusing on the demands of an athletic department and a football team,” Williams said. “But I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t tough and that I didn’t miss it — because I do. I miss the interaction with the staff and the student-athletes, but I’m able to watch from the sidelines, figuratively anyway.”

The athletic director in him could not resist an opportunity to brag on the recent accomplishments of the athletic department he helped grow.

“I was very excited for the football team at signing day,” he said. “They had a great day and signed a great class. Women’s golf won their first tournament this past weekend, and softball’s doing well again. Soccer will be kicking it up here before long. It’s just good to keep track and see those young men and women get out there and do their thing.”

While Williams will go in for testing Monday, he said it will be a couple of weeks before results come back. Updates on his journey are posted online at www.caringbridge.org/visit/bertwilliams2. 

Transplant News Sharing // “Bone Marrow Transplants” – Google News from Source www.unionrecorder.com

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