CHAPEL HILL — The tumor doctors removed last week from Roy Williams’ right kidney is not malignant, North Carolina announced Tuesday.
Williams, who is preparing to enter his 10th season as the Tar Heels basketball coach, had surgery Sept. 19. Doctors removed a tumor they identified as an oncocytoma, a benign tumor of the kidney that, according to the university’s statement, “is often indistinguishable from kidney cancer on X-rays.”
Williams also has a tumor on his left kidney. Doctors will perform a biopsy next week to determine its pathology.
Doctors are optimistic, according to the school, that the tumor on Williams’ left kidney also is benign. If it is, he will not need another surgery.
“We are pleased with how well coach Williams is doing,” Dr. Eric Wallen, who led Williams’ surgical team, said in a statement. “If everything continues to progress as expected, he should be back to his normal activities soon.”
Williams expressed appreciation for the support he has received during the past week.
“Number one, I want to express how overwhelmed I have been by the outpouring of support, concern and good wishes by everyone, especially members of the Carolina Basketball family,” he said in a statement. “I’ve just been blown away by the calls, cards, prayers and well-wishes from people all around the world in and out of the basketball community.
“My family and I are thankful to all that have expressed your concerns.”
Up until his surgery last week, Williams had not missed any time from work. He had been on the road recruiting, like normal, this month. A physical examination led to the discovery of the tumors, and Williams told his assistant coaches that he would need surgery.
The night before his operation, he gathered his players and told them amid an emotional scene.
“It was heartbreaking for me,” senior guard Dexter Strickland said. “Me being here four years and me and his relationship together, I look at him as a father figure and a coach. So, him telling me that heartbreaking news was emotional for me.”
Strickland said he prayed for Williams, and that he and his teammates were “just wishing for the best.”
On Tuesday the best news that could have come, came.