Bright Pink Means “Fight” for Fever’s Krystal Thomas

By Bryce Marsee | July 30, 2014

Just two weeks ago, ESPN anchor Stuart Scott stood in front of a filled Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles and delivered one of the most inspiring speeches the ESPY Award Show has ever seen.

“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer,” Scott said. “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” Cancer isn’t an anomaly. We know what it is, we know what it can do, and we all have probably been affected by it in one way or another.

Fever center Krystal Thomas was only a kid when she experienced firsthand what cancer can do. Her mother, Natalie, was diagnosed with breast cancer when Krystal was only 11 years old. It was then that Krystal was introduced not only to the disease, but also to a term she would dedicate her life to throughout her basketball career: fight.

“At the age of 11, I was introduced to something much greater than cancer, I was introduced to what the word ‘fight’ really meant,” Thomas said. “That's what I saw when I looked at my mother every day. I didn't see the dark and gloomy side of the disease. I saw what undeniable fight, perseverance, and strength truly was.”

Though difficult to watch her mother battle cancer, Thomas became inspired by her mother’s fight and desire to beat the disease. Watching her mother fight every day motivated Thomas to fight her own battles and chase her dreams.

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“It inspired me to take trials and tribulations in my life and use them as stepping stones forward, rather than obstacles that held me back,” Thomas said. “My mother always said giving up was never an option. No matter what hurdle cancer threw at her, it wasn't going to stop her from doing what needed to be done.”

Over the next five years, Natalie would fight her battle with cancer every day. She did it with a full heart, and she let no obstacle get in the way. Despite living by the words of Jim Valvano – “don’t give up, don’t ever give up,” – she passed away when Krystal was just 16 years old. Although it was cancer that took her life, Krystal’s mother had beaten cancer because of how she lived, why she lived, and in the manner in which she lived. No other person believed this more than Krystal.

“While my mom did lose her battle with cancer after five years, she didn't lose the war,” Thomas said. “That war, the war of fighting every day, was won because she instilled that quality in me that I carry with me to this day.”

Having been affected by breast cancer, Thomas now plays her part in trying to help promote breast cancer awareness. Thomas, along with other Fever players and coaches, will be in attendance for the Fever’s first ever Bright Pink Plaza Party on Wednesday, Aug. 6. The team’s annual Breast Health Awareness Night presented by Community Health Network is Friday, Aug. 8 (7 p.m.), with a live auction to follow the game. Featured auction items include the autographed game-worn pink jerseys worn during the game. Proceeds from the auction, which have surpassed $100,000 over the past three years, benefit the CHN Breast Health Fund.

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The Bright Pink Plaza Party will feature a free 20-minute Brighten Up workshop for attendees to learn more on breast and ovarian cancer risks and prevention methods. It will also allow attendees to get information from Community Health Network, insurance companies and non-profits focused on breast and ovarian cancer, and a chance to meet the Fever for autographs and prizes.

Fans can register online for the event on the Fever Cares section on FeverBasketball.com. The first 100 people to sign up will receive a complimentary Vera Bradley Bag and two complimentary tickets to the Fever BHA Night on Aug. 8 (must attend Brighten Up workshop at 4:30 p.m. to receive bag and tickets at registration).

The Fever Bright Pink Plaza Party begins with the workshop at 4:30 p.m. in the Entry Pavilion of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and continues on the Pennsylvania Street Plaza with more festivities.