The WNBA is dedicated to raising funds and awareness of breast cancer during the week of August 3rd to August 10th. Throughout the week, players around the league will share stories of how the disease has affected them and those closest to them in a feature known as "Her Story."
I was very close with my momís youngest sister, my aunt. She used to babysit us all the time. She was the young, hip, fun and energetic aunt that we spent a lot of time with.
When I was in college, I noticed something was going on. My mom and her sister were very secretive. They always had to go to the doctor and my aunt Rita was always kind of ill and you couldnít really give her a hug because she was just in so much pain. So we kind of figured it was something, but we didnít know it was breast cancer because it never affected our family.
So when we found out it was breast cancer, we were all taken back by it. Everybody came together, the whole family, to just continue to pray for her and everything like that.
She fought it. She really did. I feel like she mustíve had it for a while but didnít do the mammograms and self exams, so she couldnít detect it early enough to treat it. By the time the doctors found it, it was in her breast and it was going down to her liver. After we found out, she died six months later. She went through chemo and some additional experimental therapy that ultimately didnít cure her of the disease. My family and I felt she may have lived a bit longer if she hadnít gone through the experimental therapy, but at the same time we could understand that doctors need to do test things like that on the later stages of cancer. Itís just that when it happens to your family itís really upsetting.
There was only a slim chance that my aunt could survive this. She had four young children. She wanted to live. She was only 39 years old.
I come from a very spiritual family. We understand that this disease can affect any and everybody. I get mammograms more frequently just because my auntie had it. After she passed, I think a year later I got a mammogram. Every year I get my breast examination when I go to the doctor and I do it myself. Whenever Iím in the shower I give self examinations because you never know. You could check today, and then there could be something there tomorrow. You never really know. Iíve been trying to stay alert and be aware of my body and its changes over the years to be better prevent this disease from affecting me.
I was recently asked to play in a celebrity basketball game in Kansas that will raise money for cancer. The gameís in October and the purpose is to help raise money for the community so people who canít afford regular treatments or exams can get screened for cancer. Iím really leaning towards it right now and Iím hoping I can travel out there during the offseason.
Over the years Iíve stayed closed with my cousins, my auntís children. I travel a lot during the season and during the offseason Iím either in Tennessee or Texas, but weíre still close. When I come home I get to see them. Two of them have babies now. My mom still has them come over. We initially had tried to gain custody of them once my auntie passed, but the father wanted to have them live with him.
Every year on my auntieís birthday, the day that she passed and on Motherís Day, the kids go out to the grave sight and we just start reminiscing about my aunt and the crazy things she did, the funny things she did. We just try to give the kids a better feel of their mom and who she was by just telling the crazy stories about what she used to do. When they were younger they used to ask some many questions about their mom. ďDid our mom do this,Ē or ďdo we look like our mom?Ē Weíd show them pictures of when she was younger and talk about her.
I canít imagine life right now had I grown up without my mom, so we try to be there for them as much as we can.