Perseverance and Making a Difference

August 5, 2010

Friday, the Fever hosts the Atlanta Dream for Breast Health Awareness Night presented by Community Health Network. A postgame live auction will include auction items such as the playersí pink jerseys and shoes from Fridayís game. All proceeds benefit the Community Breast Health Fund.

Fever guard Katie Douglas has lived through the personal trauma of cancer in her family. She has shared her thoughts openly and offers this perspective.

††††††††††† When I was asked to write an editorial for Breast Health Awareness Week, it was an easy choice. Of course I would.

††††††††††† I know that I am truly fortunate. I play a game that I love, and I get to play in front of family and friends in my hometown. For that, and for having overcome my own familyís encounters with breast cancer and pancreatic cancer Ė I am fortunate.

††††††††††† Not many pro athletes have the opportunity to play where they want, and not many have the good fortune to play for first-class organizations like I have in Connecticut and Indiana. I feel blessed and Iím excited about helping the Fever try to return to the WNBA Finals.

††††††††††† Ultimately, in my career, perseverance has been a valuable trait that I have developed. It has come by learning to direct my focus and all my efforts to the task at hand. Itís a challenge to avoid distraction, but itís a key to maintaining your focus and thus a key in overcoming obstacles that might get in the way of your goals.

††††††††††† That is where my family experience enters my story. At Perry Meridian High School here on the south side of Indianapolis, and again while I played at Purdue University, I had to deal with the loss of both of my parents.

††††††††††† My father, Ken (pancreatic cancer, 1997), and mother, Karen (breast cancer, 2000), both lost their lives to cancer within three years of each other Ė right in the middle of my high school and college career, and right during the time that my Purdue teammates and I won the NCAA title in 1999. My life was a whirlwind of emotion.

††††††††††† In a way, the basketball court became my refuge. It was the one place that I knew that I could focus my attention and not allow my personal distractions to take over my emotions. I always had the support of my sister and brothers, but in college, they couldnít be there for me every day.

††††††††††† My teammates and coaches at Purdue helped me to continue working through a really hard time. Games and practices were an outlet for me and my emotions. I poured everything into my game and, in a way, it set a tone for my career.

††††††††††† When I step onto the floor, I have one singular focus and Iíve been blessed with the ability to block out so many of the distractions that could otherwise affect me.

††††††††††† The point to be made is that no matter the issues or obstacles that get you down, the ability to persevere and keep working can help you achieve success. That is how I learned to deal with losing both my parents to cancer, and that is what I tell people who endure similar struggles.

††††††††††† I also have been fortunate to be given a platform with which I can help others who now are faced with the obstacle of dealing with cancer Ė whether to a friend, colleague or family member. I have been given the ability to make a difference, and for all of the people who helped me overcome and still achieve success, I am so happy to spend time with people in need; or offer words of encouragement or advice.

††††††††††† I didnít grow up asking to deal with this disease. But it has become a part of my life. I try to extend my thoughts and prayers when I am given the opportunity. Iíve been there before. Itís sad and devastating. People need a lift. Iím fortunate, now, to be able to use my platform to provide a hug or a smile, and let them know that in my heart, I truly know how they feel.

††††††††††† You have heard the quote by legendary North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano, ďDonít give up Ö donít ever give up.Ē Probably the most memorable honor I ever received was a national award in his name, the Jimmy V National Comeback Player of the Year Award, which I received during my senior year at Purdue.

††††††††††† I know that I am totally lucky to have the family and friends and career that I have. I could have gotten discouraged. I could have made excuses for a bad game along the way. I could have felt sorry for myself.

††††††††††† Thankfully, I didnít. Hopefully, you wonít. Thankfully, Iíve had the opportunity to share this message.