Brian Williams


If you could save a life, would you do it? I’m not talking about dashing into a burning building, or jumping in front of a speeding train. The help you can give starts right here, right now. Each year, more than 130,000 people are diagnosed with a blood-related disease. Leukemia will strike 44,000 Americans this year, including 3,500 children.  It will kill about half of the adults and about 700 of the children. Those are scary statistics to hear, especially if you get an unexpected diagnosis like I did. There are some simple things that all of us to can to help improve these numbers.

In my case, I was healthy, until I wasn’t. I have always been diligent about seeing my doctor for annual check-ups. When I received my cancer diagnosis, right before Christmas 2015, it came as a shock. I had no history of cancer in my family. In the preceding months, I had experienced a series of seemingly minor ailments – sneezing, colds that wouldn’t go away, neck and back pains, and I was tired much of the time. The doctors that I saw at the time attributed my symptoms to allergies, asthma, aging and working too hard. On December 15, 2015, I was still feeling bad, and scheduled a same-day appointment with a different doctor at a different medical center. I ran a number of tests, but most importantly he ran a complete blood count (CBC). I received a call that evening from the doctor telling me that my bloodwork was not normal, and that I was being referred to an oncologist.

As a husband and parent, getting the diagnosis on December 16, 2015 was the scariest thing I have ever experienced. I was told that I would need to be admitted immediately, with my initial inpatient treatment lasting a month. I was also told that I would be unable to work for about a year. This of all occurred the day of my son’s sixth grade Winter concert. I had to hold myself together that day, and after the concert I broke the news of my diagnosis to my wife, my children and my parents. I still had no understanding of what to expect. Was I going to die? Would I live to see my children grow up? Get married?

On December 17, 2015, I was admitted to Henry Ford Hospital. During the months that followed, I had three rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. I spent a total of 66 days in the hospital, including Christmas, New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day. I was unable to work for almost 15 months. I could not drive, and I could not go to public places like malls or office buildings. I followed the recovery plan of my oncologists, and today I am back to work, fully active, and remain cancer-free!

For all that was done for me, it’s my turn to give back. I was given a second chance at life, thanks to organizations like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Henry Ford Hospital, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The National Marrow Donor Program, and the support of countless family members, church members, co-workers and friends.

I was recently nominated as a candidate in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Man of the Year campaign. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding research, finding cures and ensuring access to treatments for blood cancer patients.  Since 1949 LLS has been on the forefront of blood cancer advances such as chemotherapies and stem cell transplantation, leading the way to the targeted therapies and immunotherapies that are saving thousands of lives today. Right here in Michigan, there are currently 11 research projects being funded by LLS at the University of Michigan with a total investment last year of $7.4 million.

The Man and Woman of the Year campaign is a 10-week philanthropic competition held in honor of two local children who are blood cancer survivors. The 2018 Boy of the Year is Bradley Moore. He is 5 years old, diagnosed at age 4 months with Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia. Elyse Wickenheiser is the 2018 Girl of the Year. She is 9 years old, diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on her 8th birthday. Both received treatment at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, and both are thriving today and enjoying childhood.

I was introduced to the good work of LLS by a friend of mine, Rodney Ross. Rodney and I met in Henry Ford Hospital in December 2015 while I was undergoing my first round of chemotherapy (induction) and he was preparing for his stem cell transplant. We came to learn that Rodney and I both worked for the same company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. It also turned out that our wives are members of the same sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and had known each other for years. Our paths had never crossed at work. Our wives made the connection, and we formed a friendship during our walks and talks in the hospital. The inspiration and support that he provided to me was an important part of my recovery process.

A year after his treatment and recovery, Rodney become a candidate for the 2017 Man of the Year campaign. His team raised more than $58,000 to fund blood cancer research. During the campaign, I was encouraged by Rodney and representatives of the Michigan Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to join this year’s campaign. I am very much an introvert, and joining a campaign like this is outside of my comfort zone. That being said, I accepted the challenge and plan to give it my all, in support of this great cause. With the help of a dedicated team of friends and family – we call ourselves “Team Valiant” – we have a goal to raise at least $50,000 for blood cancer research and patient/Family support. You can help save lives by making a tax-deductible donation to LLS.

Another important part of my give-back mission is sharing the importance of bone marrow and stem cell donation with others. I am alive today because of the generosity of an unrelated donor. Each year, 14,000 patients need a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor, and only half can find one. The right match can save the life of someone suffering from a blood-related illness such as leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell disease, and a transplant is often a patient’s last chance for survival.

While donations from all ethnic groups are critical, there is a specific need for African-American donors. Seventy percent of patients can’t find a match within their family and are forced to turn to the National Bone Marrow Registry to find an unrelated donor. When a Caucasian patient turns to the registry, they have a 93% chance of finding a match.  When an African-American patient turns to the registry, however, they only have a 66% chance of finding a partially matched donor. Currently, only 7% of the registry is comprised of potential African-American bone marrow donors.


Be The Match is an initiative of the National Marrow Donor Program. They are actively seeking donors 18-44 of all ethnicities, but they are especially seeking members of under-represented groups to increase the diversity of the registry.  A website called was set up to help debunk the myths about donating, such as how it works, if donating is going to hurt, the associated costs, and how long it takes. While the donor and recipient are not required to share ancestry, a person’s best chance of finding a donor may be with someone of the same ethnic background.

I am alive today because a 23-year-old from Houston, TX decided to join the registry. He joined in support his mother’s friend, who was diagnosed with Atypical Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Although he wasn’t a match for her, he turned out to be a perfect match for me. Like me, his mom’s friend found a match and is in remission, but not all patients have the outcomes we did. 2,500 patients die each year waiting to find a match. If you join the registry, there is only a 1 in 430 chance that you will be asked to donate, but if you are a match, you can save someone’s life. For 80% of African-Americans who do find a match, their match is the only one on available on the Registry.

We welcome you to help save lives by joining the Be The Match registry and donating to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Man of the Year campaign. Now through June 2, 2018, every dollar raised through the campaign goes toward efforts to fund research that saves lives and impacts all affected by blood related cancers. Visit my fundraising page at to donate or to learn more about this great cause.

I was nominated to be a candidate in the 2018 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Man of the Year campaign!!! This 10-week fundraising competition is being held in honor of a local Boy & Girl of Year who are blood cancer survivors. This candidate who raises the most money by the end of the campaign will be named Man of the Year.

The campaign kicked off on March 21, 2018 and I’m asking for your help. Visit my team page at to learn more or to make a donation. We are also looking for small businesses and large organizations to become sponsors or silent auction donors.  If you can help to put me in touch with these contacts let me know.

Our team goal is to raise over $50,000 which will go directly to LLS to support its researchers in finding treatments that save lives. LLS is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding research, finding cures and ensuring access to treatments for blood cancer patients.

For all that has been done for me, it’s MY turn to give back. I was given a second chance at life – thanks to organizations like LLS, who were fighting for me even before I knew I needed them. Hopefully you can join this fight with me and my team by making a donation. Please share this post, and if you have any ideas for fundraisers let me or my team know. Thanks!


It took 29 years, but I finally was able to get out on the slopes again. I was on the Southfield High Ski Team, and even earned three varsity letters, but hadn’t been skiing since my last meet in high school. Before my diagnosis in 2015, I had scheduled family ski lessons through a program called Discover Michigan. I was unable to go because of my condition, but Lisa and the kids went and had a great time. Now that I’m healthy, I signed up again this year. We spent that day at Mt. Holly. It felt very comfortable and I had no problem getting around on skis. It was in the single-digits, but we dressed for the cold and it turned out to be a non-issue.  Looking forward to going again.

Today is a very surreal day for me. One year ago, on December 16, 2015, at about this time of the day, I was heading to an appointment with an Oncologist at Henry Ford Hospital, where I would receive my cancer diagnosis. Less than 24 hours later I checked into Henry Ford Hospital for almost a month. I ended up spending much of January, February and March in the hospital. On March 15th, I had a stem cell transplant. I was told at the beginning that the recovery time is 10-12 months. It’s a year later and I wanted to provide an update.

I FEEL GREAT. My cancer is in remission. I am back to work full time (from home). I still have to lay low until I’m one-year post-transplant, which is why I’m working from home. You won’t see me out and about except for a few rare occasions. I feel like my old self again after all these months.

I just want to thank everyone who supported me and my family during this difficult and unexpected time. I’m looking forward to March when I can spread my wings again. 2016 has been a very strange year, so I just wanted to share some good news as we enter the Christmas season.

I also wanted to continue to advocate for stem cell/bone marrow donation. I wouldn’t be here today if a donor hadn’t been generous enough to provide a stem cell donation to me. Please consider becoming a donor, especially those of you who are 45 and under. It is a relatively painless process today (it’s a lot like a blood transfusion) without the need for surgery. Receiving the donation was literally a 10 minute process for me. Stem cell donation can help those with Leukemia, Sickle Cell Anemia and other blood disorders. You join the registry by getting a mouth swab, and for those under 45, joining is free. You are only contacted if you are a match for someone. Most people are not as lucky as I was to have found a donor so fast. Some people wait for months or years, and others never find a match. If you have any questions about the process let me know. Visit for more info, to make a donation, or to request a kit.

Yesterday was election day.

First day back to work. I spent a few hours in the office getting my laptop set up and gathering up papers and what-not I took my ID picture (aweful). I’m starting back working half days from home, then I’ll work full time from home until March/April, then back to the office.

July 4, 2016

I had some food success today. Lisa and the kids went to the Michigan RibFest in Pontiac. They brought back some rib tips and I was able to eat them! Still no luck with beef or chicken.

July 6

More food success. Ate most of a Pizza Papalis personal pan pizza!

July 7

Celebrating our 15th Anniversary with a much needed kid-free evening out. Oh how time flies! Luv u babe!

July 17 – Camping send-off

Annual Father & Son camping weekend, 46 fathers and sons bonding, creating memories, and building lasting friendships. Just good old fashion fun.

BTW, the long-awaited basketball re-match between the dads & teenagers was epic. Once again, the dads were victorious and remain undefeated; 3-Peat and took home the championship.

July 19

Happy 51st Birthday to the late Stuart Scott. His daughters @taeandsyd asked that we celebrate National Ice Cream Day to honor their dad. Rest in peace, my Brother. ’06 #ScoopsForStu #StuartScottLegacy

July 26, 2016

I got my first post-transplant haircut today. My hair has been growing for a while but was a little on the wild side. My new hair was essentially baby hair – very soft and straight. It had grown to maybe a quarter-inch, but did not lay flat, so it had that “Bernie Sanders” look. I faded down the sides and trimmed a little off the top. I’m still interested in seeing how it continues to grow in.

July 28 – Went to Port Huron

June 2nd was Ava’s birthday. We went to Red Lobster. I got permission from my doctors to try some lobster bisque. I was able to eat it, so now I have one more item on my menu. I’ve grown tired of chicken noodle soup.

June 18th was the first day of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, held at Marygrove College. I definitely wanted to support the cause, so we stopped by for a very quick visit. We walked a few laps, then I went home and took a nap.

June 21st is Lisa’s birthday. We went to dinner at the Rusty Bucket. I was able to eat some cheese soup.

I spent the weekend of June 26th with my Dad. Lisa and the kids drove to her family reunion in Milwaukee.

I ended up being discharged from Henry Ford Hospital on May 9. What I was told would be 24-48 hours in the hospital turned into nine days!

My hands are almost all cleared up. The back of my hands are back to the normal color, and the palms have stopped peeling. Health wise I’m feeling better, but I’m still having trouble eating. The foods that I can eat are limited. For the most part, I’m living off soup, apple sauce, Muscle Milk, and canned Chef Boyardee lasagna. Still no luck with chicken, beef, pork, pizza, burgers, etc. Lisa has also started making me Häagen-Dazs milkshakes. I’ve been drinking one or two of those a day to help put weight back on.

I’m also starting to get some hair back. I noticed some fuzzy hair starting to grow.

Eight days later and I’m still here. Today is Mother’s Day, so it looks like I’ll be missing another holiday. My sister is here, so she stopped by the hospital with my folks. This stay on P2 was especially annoying. I was supposed to be here for 2 days, and most of the time that I’ve been here has just been waiting, waiting, waiting. The food has been terrible, so I haven’t eaten much. I should be going home tomorrow.

I started to get some of the test results back. The skin biopsy reveal that the infection is called Confluent and Reticulated Papillomatosis, a bacterial infection. They prescribed a pill, but the rash just seems to need to run its course. Some areas have already started to clear up. It seems to progress from the bumps, to the dark patches, then the skin dries up and peels off, revealing normal skin underneath.

Subsequent blood tests revealed that I didn’t have a blood infection, so the doctors were able to cut some of the antifungals and antibacterials that I was on. I had the PICC line put back in, so I was back to wearing hospital gowns again. The throat scope and biopsy did show a fungal infection, so they will continue to treat my thrush.

I also had one more thing pop up… my left eye started watering and became really red and irritated. This is the eye that I had surgery on, so of course I was concerned. Ophthalmology was brought back in and they had me go upstairs for an exam. They found a small scratch on my cornea, so they prescribed Vigamox eyedrops and an ointment. They will check me out again tomorrow.

Well, I’m still here. The doctors said I might be able to go home by Friday. They were still concerned about the positive blood tests, even though they might be false positives, so many specialists became involved. Yesterday I had a wave of specialists come in to see me. I had visits from Infectious Disease, Dermatology, Gastroenterology and Ophthalmology.

Infectious Disease was concerned about the blood test. The decision was made to remove my tri-fusion catheter, since it could be the source of the infection. I would be going back to a PICC line. This was done by Interventional Radiology. I will be a couple of days before the PICC line is put in, so I have a IV in my hand.

Dermatology was concerned about the skin rash. Over the past week or so the rash started to change. Instead of the dark bumps, they started to spread and fade together, becoming larger dark patches. They also weren’t sure what it was, so they took a couple of punch biopsies of my skin near upper chest and stomach. My first impression was that it seemed to be something spread by touch, since it was only on chest/stomach/groin/leg area and wasn’t on hard-to-reach places like my back. It also didn’t appear under my catheter dressing. We’ll know more in a couple of days.

Gastroenterology was concerned about my GI tract. I have a really bad case of thrush, which impacts my ability to eat. I also have something going on in my throat, and with the stomach issues they might want to scope my throat.

Ophthalmology was brought in to check my eyes as a preventive measure. They just wanted to make sure that I didn’t have an infection in my eyes.

My mother-in-law said when I first checked in that hospital never keep you for just 24-48 hours. They need to get their money’s worth. I guess she was right.