In an exclusive interview with Closer Weekly, Happy Days star Anson Williams shares the story of how he beat cancer — and gained a new perspective on life.

Just before Christmas last year, the actor who is best known as Potsie, was diagnosed with Stage 2 colon cancer. He soon underwent two surgeries and spent three weeks in the hospital, but he emerged with more than just a clean bill of health — he had a new attitude. “I turned it into a positive,” Anson tells Closer of his diagnosis. “I learned I have a purpose for living.”

anson williams getty images

Anson in 2015.

“It was the wake-up call I needed,” Anson, 67 — who is now working to save lives, inspired by his uncle, Dr. Henry Hemlich, by raising awareness of Drowsy Driving, the current cause of more deaths than substance abuse — tells Closer exclusively. “I needed to reprioritize my life. It actually became beneficial for me in that I became so much stronger about what I believe in.”

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Most of all, “I learned to have a deeper appreciation for my family,” Anson says of Jackie, his wife of nearly 30 years, as well as his five daughters and two grandchildren. “I always knew I loved them and they were important, but now it’s at a whole new level.”

During his extended hospital stay, “I would walk around my floor and try to make patients and other people laugh,” Anson recalls to Closer. “I did what I was trained to do — bring good humor, take the stress out of people’s lives, and make them smile.”

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Anson tells Closer that he has also been trying to help others facing similar health situations by opening up about his cancer battle on social media. “I put down what I was feeling, and I thought people would connect with my story,” he says. “I wanted to inspire someone else.”

For more from Anson, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for exclusive news!

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