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Ex Gor, Stars coach Williamson battling cancer

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Former Harambee Stars head coach, Bobby Williamson, during the team’s barren draw against Mauritius on Sunday, October 11, 2015. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 21- Former Harambee Stars and Gor Mahia coach Bobby Williamson has revealed that he is battling cancer in an interview with the Scottish Sun.

Williamson who managed the Uganda Cranes before moving to Kenya was diagnosed with cancerous cells in his nasal cavity in the summer, but is keen on returning to coaching after he completes his treatment in India.

He has spent the last two months undergoing a gruelling programme of intensive treatment in India, but is optimistic he will make a full recovery. Williamson revealed he’s lost almost 12.7kg in weight since his chemotherapy and radiotherapy started last month.

He’s also been badly affected by chronic mouth ulcers, a side effect of his treatment.

Williamson, 56, said: “In the summer I’d been bothered by what felt like a blockage at the back of my throat.

“I’d just been signed up for a medical insurance policy with my partner Michelle and in the course of the medical I had they discovered something.

“It was causing me problems breathing, so I was keen to get it out. But the tests they did showed it was cancerous.

“There was a bit of a delay between the tests being done and the results coming back, which made me think I might be better getting treatment elsewhere.

“Michelle told me that in Kenya people who need lengthy hospital treatment go to India, so we made some enquiries and I came over to Delhi.

“They’ve told me the tumour has been removed, but I had to have chemotherapy once a week and 20 sessions of radiotherapy, which was pretty tough.

Harambee Stars head coach, Bobby Williason (left) greets captain Victor Wanyama. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“It’s going to be a few months before they know for sure it hasn’t spread.

“Michelle has been absolutely fabulous supporting me. She’s taken unpaid leave off her work to be here with me.”

Williamson, who was axed as manager of Kenya in February 2016, admits the warning signs were there during everyday life in Nairobi.

He added: “I’d first gone to hospital at the start of last year because I’d had nosebleeds a couple of days in succession.

“At that time my nose always felt blocked, so they did a lot of tests. I had a colonoscopy and an endoscopy, but my liver, pancreas and kidneys were all OK.

“But by August it was getting unbearable. I felt as if I was totally blocked up all the time and I was having trouble breathing.

“They did a biopsy and the results initially came back inconclusive. But I was pushing for it to be removed because I knew there was something bothering me.”

As if the cancer diagnosis wasn’t serious enough, medics also told Williamson he was suffering from diabetes.

He said: “As well as the radiotherapy and chemotherapy, I was given medication for the diabetes. I was taking 20 tablets a day.

“One of the side effects of the meds I was on was enormous mouth ulcers.

“At various stages there were more ulcers visible on my tongue and gums than there was normal skin. They tried everything to help with that, from mouthwashes to gels, but nothing did much good.

“One night I was up six times between 1am and 4am to put the gel on. At 4am I gave up and got up and read my book.

Harambee Stars head coach, Bobby Williamson, applauds during their 2-1 loss to Zambia. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

“Even this week I had a bowl of soup that I couldn’t force down because eating it hurt so much. The same thing happened with a glass of water which I couldn’t get over my throat. I haven’t had a single bit of bread since I’ve been in India.

“When I arrived in India I was 86kg and now I’m 75kg. That’s almost two stones of a difference. I’m lighter now than I was when I played football!

“I had a mask made because the radiation treatment was directed on to my face and they had to make a second one because the first one didn’t fit after I lost so much weight.

“I wasn’t eating and I had to be put on a drip in hospital because I wasn’t taking in any nutrition.

“I went Christmas shopping one day last week and I felt dizzy and had blurred vision while I was out.

“There was talk of me going back into hospital this week to get fed through a tube directly into my stomach.

“But I forced a milkshake down the other day and felt a bit better after that.”

Williamson admits his long spell in hospital has given him time to reconsider his stance over his ongoing legal dispute with the Kenyan FA.

He resisted the chance to take jobs while he was embroiled in a dispute over unpaid wages after he was axed as national boss nearly two years ago.

He said: “I’m hoping to get the all-clear to leave India on Christmas Eve.

“My plan then is to have a break in Dubai, which is on the journey from India to Kenya, to recuperate next week, then get back to Kenya.

Former Harambee Stars head coach, Bobby Williamson (foreground) consults with his assistant, Musa Otieno during a past match. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

“I haven’t worked in football since leaving the national team job.

“The Kenyan FA broke the contract, so there’s a dispute which is being handled by lawyers. I like living in Kenya, so it’s not a road I want to go down. But they broke it, not me.

“While that was going on I didn’t want to work because I was focused on the dispute, but now I want to get back to coaching.

“While I’ve been in India I’ve got a bit of appetite for the game back.

“I would get back to the apartment I’ve rented and from 11pm to midnight there’s football on the TV every night.

“I’ve probably watched more football in the last six months than I ever have.

“I’ve seen a lot of Indian football, which is obviously on the rise. There are a few well-known managers working there, like Steve Coppell, John Gregory and Teddy Sheringham. So is the former Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen.

“There are ten teams in the I-League and the coaches are all either English, Spanish or Portuguese.

-Courtesy Scottish Sun

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