Spider bite complicates Wenonah High girls' basketball coach's cancer battle

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Coach Emanuel Bell has kept a steady motto since the day he first learned he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last August: "Faith, not fear."

"That's my motto. Faith, not fear. That's my motto," Bell said.

He's one of the winningest basketball coaches in the state, leading the Wenonah High Lady Dragons to four state championships.

After his diagnosis, he underwent chemotherapy, saw his tumor shrink, then grow again.

Still undergoing treatments, things seemed to be at a steady pace until three weeks ago.

"I didn't notice it until the next day. That Friday evening, I started feeling a little something," Bell said.

That something was a spider bite--quite possibly from a brown recluse.

He went to the doctor who prescribed antibiotics. Still, the bite continued to grow from dime sized to that of a half dollar.

That's when doctors decided a small procedure would be necessary to remove the infection.

But because he's undergoing chemotherapy and has diabetes, the healing process will be much slower.

Even so, Bell isn't down.

He views his recovery period through a positive lens.

"It'll make me get a little rest before basketball season, before I get started again on another journey to the five-peat. Y'all heard it: five-peat, five in a row--you heard it," he said with a laugh.

Bell also saw his oncologist Wednesday.

They reviewed his latest scans and while they show the tumor hasn't shrunk, it hasn't grown either.

As for the spider bite, he'll go back to the doctor Friday to see how that is healing.

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