BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - I always knew he was a fighter. I always knew that he would do everything in his power to beat it. While his future remains untold, Wenonah High School girls basketball coach Emanuel Bell is nearing a milestone. The coach is less than two months away from reaching two years from being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. To understand what an achievement this is, you need only look at numbers. Sadly, the 5-year survival rate for those diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer is between four and ten percent. Emanuel's take? Why can't he be the one-in-ten or one-in-25 people who get through it? Why not?
If there ever was a model patient, Coach Bell is it: He undergoes aggressive chemotherapy treatments four times over every five weeks. The chemo Emanuel takes is not for wimps- it sickens him, it tires him, it beats him down. Yet the coach endures thanks to a bright outlook, a large support group and plenty of faith. Coach Bell, never afraid to wear his faith on his sleeve, trudges on each and every day, looking for an extra half hour of sleep, an extra prayer, an extra phone call.
What else gets him through? His caring doctor Katisha Vance and her support staff at Alabama Oncology. I have had the honor of visiting Emanuel as he underwent chemo treatments. The one person in the room smiling, laughing, picking up the spirits of the other patients in the room? Yep, Emanuel Bell. If only every patient with a dire diagnosis acted so bravely.
Coach Bell was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in August of 2016. Instead of his life falling apart, his life rose to the challenge. And in just a few weeks, the coach will reach the two-year mark since receiving the shocking news. If Emanuel was climbing a mountain he'd be nearly halfway to the summit. While there is plenty of climbing yet to be done, the coach remains content in the news that his latest scan, three months after a March scan showed a tumor shrinkage of 38%, shows the growth to be stable.
Emanuel lives life one day at a time- says the coach, "Every morning I wake up is a blessing." He lives by the motto, "Faith, Not Fear", and he fights the fight without backing down. In Hebrew, the name Emanuel translates to "God is with us." If you are the head coach of the Wenonah girls basketball team, that's a comforting reminder that the fight is not over, but actually has just begun.