FOR the last two years, Kelly Williams has been contemplating on retiring, friends said.
So much so that when Talk 'N Text team owner Manny V. Pangilinan hosted a dinner for Williams and the whole team in the NBC Tent at The Fort on Monday, insiders felt it could end up being a despedida party for the ailing former PBA Most Valuable Player.
Williams was first diagnosed with immune thrombocytopenia purpura in 2009 while still with the defunct Sta. Lucia Realty team, but close friends said the ailment - as well as the medicines he has been taking to keep it under control - has taken a toll on the league star.
An expert told Spin.ph that Williams’ illness is a rare blood disorder that causes a drop in the platelets in his blood system. Williams has since been taking regular medications, including steroid shots which were necessary to keep his platelet count up.
There were risks, but Williams kept playing for the sake of the team and the sport he loves.
“Talagang hindi lang maiwan ni Kelly yung team, kasi natutuwa siya being with his friends here. He knows the dangers, pero mahal niya yung sport eh,” added Reyes.
A simple cut, for example, might result in excessive blood loss. Williams was also prone to contusions, and purple dots immediately manifested in his skin especially when hit hard during a game.
“Kaya nga regularly talaga may shot siya ng steroids to keep his platelet up,” said a source. “But you know the effects of steroids, nakikita naman kay Kelly di ba? Minsan lumolobo ang mukha niya, masyado siyang pumutla, not to mention the dangers it pose sa internal organs niya.”
The Talk 'N Text insider even revealed a few instances when an exasperated Williams chose to discontinue his steroids medication.
“Bumagsak yung platelet niya to 10,000," said the source, who stressed that the normal platelet count is 150,000 to 450,000 per microliter of blood. "It really affected him. Not just his game, pero pati sa personal na buhay niya. You know how dangerous it is when your thrombocyte drops.”
His close friend, Jared Dillinger, shared how Williams has been struggling with his disease.
“He is in a struggle, the effects of medicines that they apply on him are nasty,” bared Dillinger, tears welling in his eyes. “So when he said he needed to step away from everything, we were just like: ‘Hey man, take care of that (illness), health is way more important than everything.'”
The versatile forward, likewise, hinted Williams’ taking of too much medication has also affected his relationship with his family.
“Sometimes, he won’t sleep, and then during the day or after practice, his energy will be way too low,” said Williams’ close pal. “He’ll just sleep, totally depriving him of family minutes."
“So when we heard about his struggles, we advised him to take care of himself and his family first before he thinks of other things,” he said while expressing his profound hope that Williams will recover to play again.
Meanwhile former Philippine College of Physicians president Marcelito Durante was quick to allay fears from fans that Williams’ disease is close to the dreaded ailment leukemia.
“Ay hindi, malayo yun. Cancer yung leukemia. Itong immune thrombocytopenia purpura may nagbabara sa loob,” said the popular surgeon.
When asked if the said illness can be life-threatening, Durante said: “Pag napabayaan mo, delikado yang sakit na yun."