To emphasize that breast cancer can strike anyone, WNBA.com is featuring “Her Story,” a series of first-person tales from players telling the stories of loved ones who have been affected by the disease, throughout Breast Health Awareness Week. Fans who have also coped with breast cancer can post stories about themselves or those close to them on the site’s Fan Voice section. To share your experiences, please click here.

Her Story: Rebecca Lobo, ESPN Reporter, An Original WNBA Player

I vividly remember my mother telling me that she had breast cancer. I was a junior in college in 1993 and we were sitting in the stands of Gampel Pavilion at the University of Connecticut about an hour after the conclusion of one of my games.

Mom: “Rebecca, the doctors found a lump in my breast and it is cancerous.”

I didn’t say anything. I just cried.

Mom: “I need you to continue working hard in school and on the basketball court. Keep getting good grades. Keep playing hard. I have enough to worry about without having to worry about you.”

The tears streamed down my face. I sobbed silently.

Mom: “Besides… your father’s not a breast man anyway.”

I laughed … and cringed. That was way more than I needed to know.


I vividly remember my mother telling me that her breast cancer had returned. It was 11 years after her original diagnosis – and a few weeks before my daughter’s first birthday.

Mom: “Rebecca, the doctors found some lesions on my spine.”

I was dazed.

Mom: “I’m going to meet with the oncologist to determine my treatment. Don’t worry…”

That was almost 4 years ago. Since then, my mother has treated the return of her cancer with a few different chemo cocktails. For the most part, she is doing extremely well.


My children adore their “Damma”. She gives my daughters pedicures and hosts them for sleepovers. She gives me cooking advice (when I ask) and parenting advice (when I don’t ask).

She is the most powerful female voice in my world.

Long before the WNBA started, my mother was well-versed in Title IX and encouraged me to play basketball, football, and baseball with the boys. She told our local Park and Rec coordinator that he had to put me on the 4th grade boy’s basketball team after only two girls signed up to play.

Mom (to my coaches on the first day of practice): “Don’t take it easy on Rebecca just because she is a girl. Treat her the same as all the boys. Except… when you play shirts and skins, please put her on the shirts team.”

My mom didn’t stop me from writing a letter to Celtics president Red Auerbach in which I informed him I’d be the first girl to play in the NBA. She even mailed it. I was 10 years old. When my 5th grade teacher scolded me by saying I had to dress and act more like a girl and stop playing with the boys at recess, my mother responded by pulling me out of that classroom. I think the same qualities she displayed in those cases – optimism, resolve and defiance – have sustained her in her fight against breast cancer.

I didn’t make good on my promise to be the first girl in the NBA. But I did become one of the first women to play in the WNBA, and my mom is very proud of what the league stands for. She is proud as a woman, mother, and grandmother. She watches the games on TV, reads about the league in the newspaper, and attends games when she can. She is convinced that I could still play and help a team win a championship. It’s her mother’s pride, and not the cancer, that can make her slightly delusional in this regard.

I, too, am proud – of my mom. It’s been 16 years since her initial breast cancer diagnosis and she continues to inspire me every day.

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