Coach Hatchell Returns Home

CHAPEL HILL – UNC Women’s Basketball Coach, Sylvia Hatchell, returned home after nearly a month at UNC Lineberger.

Coach Hatchell recently stepped aside as head coach for the time being when diagnosed with leukemia. But Coach Hatchell says she’s getting better.

“I’m doing great, the doctors, they can’t believe how well I’ve done and how I’ve taken the treatments and I’ve exercised every day, only one day did I not exercise, but I feel really good, my numbers are great right now, in fact their a whole lot better than when I came in here” Hatchell says.

***Listen to the Full Interview***

Coach Hatchell became the head coach for UNC women’s basketball in 1986.  She says that while at UNC Lineberger she has looked back and is proud of what she has done.

“Of course I’ve never taken for granted coaching and the players and the opportunities that I have here, but I treasure them even more now” Hatchell says.

Thursday was Coach Hatchell’s first day out of the UNC Lineberger center in a month, and she says she has plans to see her team.

“I can’t wait to go see my golden retriever, Matty, so I’m excited to see her; but I get to see the team this afternoon and we’re going to do a team building exercise together so that will be really special to see those kids and all that stuff” Hatchell states.

Coach Hatchell has a large following of fans and supporters that have been sending her mail and tweeting about her. She says that the support has been great.

“The outpouring of love and friendship and all has just been absolutely unbelievable, and I’m not out of the woods yet with everything and so we got to continue, the biggest thing is I just need people praying for me” Hatchell says.

Coach Hatchell Tweets Shaved Head

CHAPEL HILL – Sylvia Hatchell continues her battle with leukemia, and Wednesday she tweeted a photo to show fans she hasn’t lost her spirit and her fight.

The tweet says “Hello again Tarheel, we had a shave my head party with the doctors and nurses tonight. Miss you guys and my team.”

The picture shows the back of Hatchell’s shaved head with “Go Heels” and a Tar Heel footprint painted in Carolina Blue.

Coach Hatchell is on Twitter: @UNCWBBCoach

Leukemia Is A Cancer Of The Blood

DURHAM – Professor of Medicine at the Duke Cancer Institute, Dr. David Rizzieri explains the blood cancer that you may have heard of but might not completely understand.

“Your blood has three types of cells: platelets that help the blood clot; red cells carry oxygen, and white cells fight infection,” Dr. Rizzieri says. “When a white blood cell starts growing out of control it causes a cancer. That can be either a lymphoma, myeloma, or leukemia depending on the specific cell and where it has started losing control.”

WCHL’s Ron Stutts spoke with Dr. Rizzieri on the WCHL Tuesday Morning News.

***Listen to the Interview***

He says since there are many different types of infections, there are many different types of white blood cells.

Dr. Rizzieri says those three cancers account for about 150,000 cancers each year and ten percent of new cancers each year.

He says leukemia is often not an easy disease to catch.

“Patients often present in a very nebulous way in very non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, not quite performing their normal daily activities as they are used to,” Dr. Rizzieri says. “There may be bruising, increased sleeping, things that would lead them to often see their general physician and initially be treated for an infection or something like that, and then it doesn’t get better

And, Dr. Rizzieri says the treatments vary depending on the specific types of Leukemia.

“Some are observed and are only treated when they make the patient feel poorly as our therapies can control the blood cells for many years,” Dr. Rizzieri says. “Others are aggressive, fast-growing leukemias, and our current therapies require intravenously-delivered chemotherapy which can have many side effects and take a while to recover from.”

Dr. Rizzieri was not speaking about any specifics of UNC women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell’s diagnosis of leukemia; Hatchell is being treated at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The type of leukemia Hatchell has is unknown, but it is said it was caught early.

On Hatchell: “I Think She Was Trying To Cheer Me Up”

CHAPEL HILL – Senior Associate Athletic Director for Communications Steve Kirschner says the roles were reversed when he spoke to UNC women’s basketball coach about her diagnosis just after he found out.

“It was amazing; I actually felt so good after speaking to her, because I think she was trying to cheer me up,” Kirschner says. “She was excited that her team had come to the hospital last night. She told her team yesterday afternoon; they were hanging out with her a little bit and taking some photographs with her. She was excited that one of the players who’s got a little bit of an injury is coming back from that injury today, so she was excited about that.”

***Listen to the Full Interview***

Kirschner is the sports information director for men’s basketball but has pitched in from time to time with the women’s program. He says Coach Hatchell’s already ahead of the game with the attitude she lives with every day.

“What you hear from families that go through this is it’s a battle, and your attitude says a lot,” Kirschner says. “She has a great attitude and she has great passion for what she does. She’s worked with the Lineberger Center for years and has really spent a lot of time in this area supporting the research and the work that goes on at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital, at the Lineberger Center.”

Tar Heel Voice: “You Know, Sylvia’s A Fighter”

CHAPEL HILL – The Voice of the Tar Heels, Jones Angell, was the play-by-play voice for UNC women’s basketball from 2004-2006. He’s says he’s seen much of the same reaction among the Carolina family with the news of Sylvia Hatchell’s diagnosis with leukemia.

“The number one thing that seems to be on people’s minds is obviously concern, but people then kind of get a little smile on their face and say, but you know, Sylvia’s a fighter,” Angell says. “There’s no doubt—even if you’ve just watched her on the sidelines, you know the level of intensity that she has there and the level of desire that she puts into just coaching basketball.”

***Listen to the Full Interview***

Angell says the striking thing about Hatchell—which many local people are well aware of—is her personality.

“She’s such a vibrant personality and such a nice person, too,” Angell says. “I think that’s the number one thing that jumps out to you about her is just how quality of a person she is and so family oriented.”