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Jesse Williams has a college and NFL ring, but his biggest fight is yet to be fought.

Jesse Williams – In Depth Information on His Cancer

By: Larry Burton

Jesse Williams only had two years in his Alabama career, but he made an indelible mark on not just only his team, but with the fans and family of the Alabama nation.

Everyone knows the story, Williams, a rugby player from Australia gets involved with American style football and soon begins an odyssey that took him to the Australian National Championships, then to Arizona Western College where he became one of the highest Jr. College recruits in the country and then on to the University of Alabama where he became a standout player who went on to the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks, becoming the first Australian to win a Super Bowl ring.

For Williams, life was good. He had friends, money and after two years in the league with knee injuries, he thought he finally had the injuries behind him as just recently re-signed with the Seahawks and was finally ready to shine.

But now Williams received the news that he was in stage two of papillary renal cell carcinoma or PRCC of the kidneys. It is a disease that is most usually hereditary.

To understand what this is, you must first understand that this cancer exists in certain stages. According to, the stages are:

  • stage 1: The tumor is smaller than a tennis ball and no cells are found outside the kidneys.
  • stage 2: The tumor has grown larger than a tennis ball but no cells have traveled outside of the kidneys.
  • stage 3: The tumor can be any size, but cells are found in a lymph node, or it has spread to nearby organs.
  • stage 4: The tumor has spread to several lymph nodes or has traveled to the lungs, liver, or other organs.

As in any cancer, early detection is the key and while an earlier diagnosis would have been better, but the fact that the cancer is still located in just one organ, his kidneys give him a better chance of fighting and beating this disease.

The kidneys are the body’s purification plant and the kidneys are full of tubes that strain and purify bad things from the body. In PRCC cancer, tumors form inside those tubes and can, over time, stop the kidneys from functioning and spread to other vital organs which will also shut down.

There are several treatment options that include surgery to remove the tumor or tumors, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biologic therapy and targeted therapy. Most patients will undergo more than one treatment option and Williams overall health and strength are keys that could help him the most. The other factor in Williams favor is his attitude. Jesse is a fighter and is optimistic and surrounded by people who care about him.

According to the American Cancer Society, stage one patients have an 81% chance of a five year or more survival rate. Stage two patients have a good 74% rate and the odds don’t get bad until stage three, where the five year survival rate is just 53%. By stage four, just 8% make it to five years or more.

In writing this article, I was not sure if I should include the previous paragraph, but I wanted the Alabama nation to understand not only what this cancer was, but how serious it is.

Jesse chose to rehabilitate his knees in Australia, but as of yet, no plans on his treatment have been released. He may choose to go to Australia to be near his family and his multitude of friends and fans there.

He was born in the Queensland area of Australia and I traveled extensively there this winter, often wearing Alabama gear and was constantly amazed by the number of people who would yell “Hey Mate! Roll Tide!” and then ask if I knew Jesse. I ran into people who knew him and was told many funny stories stories about “Tha Monster” or the “Wild Man” as they called him.

His popularity certainly converted many Aussie’s to Alabama fans and the games he played in at Alabama were on at every bar in the country.

The Seahawks have said they were behind him in his recovery and so are the Seahawk fans, Alabama nation and of course his Aussie mates as well as tens of thousands of others who just love any sport.

As for Jesse, his statement to the press was short, sweet and simple. “Although disappointing, I am a fighter and will handle this. I am going to focus on my health and fighting this battle with a return to football as my ultimate goal”. said Williams through a press release from the Seahawk’s office.

God’s speed on this latest journey and a successful finish. Your goals are our goals too.

Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at
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Larry Burton is a member of the Football Writers of America Association (FWAA) and was the most read SEC and Alabama football writer during his time at Bleacher Report. He has been credentialed by all the major bowls and the University of Alabama. Larry provides some of the best insight in the business through his "Larry's Lowdown" segment with TDA.

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