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Welsh is determined to beat cancer

For the past decade, Luther and Anne Welsh have looked forward to the day they could just sit back and enjoy living life on their farm in Bishopville, S.C.

Now it looks as though those plans have been delayed by cancer.

Just a few weeks ago, coach Welsh guided his Thomson High School Bulldogs onto the gridiron for the last time. The game pitted his team against the Peach County Trojans, winners of the 2009 Class AAA state title.

Even though the Bulldogs ended up losing that game and getting knocked out of the 2010 state playoffs, it was a most successful season for Thomson. And it was a complete turnaround from the previous year, when they finished with a dismal 2-8 record. It was coach Welsh's worst-ever season in his two stints at Thomson.

He officially retired after that game as one of the most successful prep football coaches in Georgia history.

The 78-year-old coach Welsh learned a short time later that cancer had invaded his body for a second time.

He beat it once before. That was several years ago. And he remains optimistic that he can beat it once again.

"I'm sure willing to give it a shot," he said during a recent interview with The McDuffie Mirror. "I'm sure not going to give in to it. I want to fight it like I did before and hopefully beat it again."

The coach has several radiation treatments left.

A close friend, Ralph Starling, a loan officer at Queensborough National Bank & Trust in Thomson, has made him feel somewhat at ease by providing rides back and forth from his home in Thomson to Augusta for those treatments.

"If I can't do it, then I find somebody in the community who can provide him a ride," said Mr. Starling, who also serves as color commentator during the broadcasts of Bulldogs football games over radio station WTHO-FM 101.7 in Thomson.

"Whatever we can do for coach Welsh and Miss Anne, we're all very glad to do."

Coach Welsh calls his latest setback just that -- a setback.

"I've had some setbacks in my life," he said. "I'm looking at what's ahead as just a setback.

"Hopefully this won't be a permanent setback -- just a temporary one."

Web posted on Thursday, December 30, 2010

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