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Sylvia Hatchell: What I'm Thankful For
Release: 11/28/2013

By Sylvia Hatchell

I have told some people that my leukemia diagnosis is a blessing, and the first thing they ask me is, "How can you say it's a blessing?"

First of all, my belief is that God is sovereign. I said a long time ago, "I'm all yours." And when you say that, you better mean it, because you don't know what it could bring. I'm not bitter. I know there is a reason for this. I feel honored that He would use me in whatever way he wants to use me. If what I'm going through helps one person, then it's worth it.

Everyone asks that question, "Why was I born? What is the meaning of my life?" I know the meaning of my life is not to be the basketball coach at the University of North Carolina, even though I love that role. The meaning of my life should be to help other people and touch other people, and that's what I have a chance to do right now.

I'm thankful that because of what I'm going through, we're able to bring some attention to the National Bone Marrow Registry. There are ten million people registered, but that's not much compared to the population of our country. People still have the perception that it's painful to register with them. It's not. It's a cotton swab of your cheek.

And I don't know if I'll ever even need it, because right now my prognosis is very good. But there are people every day who need a match in that registry, and I hope we can bring more attention to that.

I'm so, so thankful to be at UNC Lineberger. People don't understand how blessed we are to have this facility right here in Chapel Hill. These people are incredible. What better place could I be in anywhere in the country other than right here?

I'm very thankful for my friends and family. Since I began treatment, I have not spent one single night by myself. I tried very hard not to have (husband) Sammy or (son) Van change their schedules for me. But even with that, I have so many great friends who have spent the night with me, whether that's at our house or sleeping on the couch at the hospital.

I have talked to my team about this situation quite a bit. I've told them that my prognosis is good and I'm working as hard as I can to be back with them before long. And when I get back, I guarantee I will be the best coach in America. I promise you that. I can't tell you how much I miss those girls, and how much I miss coaching them, and being the coach of the University of North Carolina. I'm just like anyone else: you don't realize how much something means to you until it's taken away.

I know I'll have to make adjustments. I won't just be able to have the doctors tell me I can go full-speed back into being a coach. I have to work my way back in, and on the days my numbers are good, I'll be able to go into the office and maybe watch practice and do a couple of things. I realize I'm going to have to slow down a little, because I have been someone who wants to do everything. If it needs to get done, there's no reason why I can't be the one to do it. I may not be able to take that approach as often.

It's going to be a while before I can really get back full force. But when I do, there will not be a more committed and grateful coach in America than this young lady right here. All of us have so much to be thankful for. And even when things aren't exactly what we think they ought to be, it's a blessing.


UNC North Carolina Women's Basketball


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