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    TIM PEELER: A Hoops for Hope Survivor's Story
     
     

    BY TIM PEELER

    RALEIGH, N.C.  Reba Worsley remembers that cold day in February, as she waited for the radiologist to read her annual mammogram.

     

    “What if something is wrong?” she thought.

     

    But it was unlikely that there would be a problem. Yes, her daughter had been diagnosed with a form of bone cancer in her foot at the age of 16. But it was a rare thing. She had a distant aunt who had breast cancer, but generally her family background was clear of such things. She had done all the right things: ate healthy, exercised, watched her weight and kept a positive attitude.

     

    When the technician arrived at the door, her face said it all there was a problem.

     

    What followed is familiar to everyone who has ever gotten that unexpected diagnose. Quick surgery. Rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Endless nights of worrying about all the dire possibilities. Cards and letters from friends and family. And more worrying...

     

    That was 10 years ago. In the years since, Reba Worsley’s sister was also diagnosed with breast cancer. Her husband George, NC State’s retired Vice Chancellor of Business and Finance, went survived his own battle with cancer. In all, five members of her immediate family spanning three generations had their stories to tell about surviving cancer.

     

    So the former Needham Broughton High School teacher and retired real estate broker is eager to walk onto the floor of Reynolds Coliseum during halftime of next Sunday’s women’s basketball game between NC State and Boston College, the third-annual Hoops for Hope. She’s proud to be a survivor.

     

    Like NC State women’s coach Kay Yow, Worsley believes it is important to tell her story of surviving cancer. And her enlightening story is one of nearly 100 that will be represented in the third-annual Halftime Survivor Recognition.  One survivor will receive the Courage Angel that was presented to Coach Yow by Jolly’s Jewelers of Raleigh. That survivor will keep it for one year and pass it on to next year’s honored participant.

     

    For Worsley, and dozens of other cancer survivors, this has become a cathartic part of her recovery. She shared part of her survivor’s story with GoPack.com.

     

    What are the memories of your diagnosis? I was devastated and worried over who would care for my family, who would feed them who would love them and who would just be there for them.  Christmas season was at hand; I had just had surgery.  If seemed as if everyone came from everywherefamily, friends, and cancer survivors I had never met showing their concern, love and support.  They put me back together and with their help and that of my doctors, we all faced the challenge head on.  With each treatment I told myself that the chemicals were pushing the cancer out of my body and that with God’s help, I would be well and whole again.   And I am.

     

    What was your motivation through all of this? My family was my motivationmy husband, George and my two children Susan and John and my extended family.  I knew I had to be there for them .  This journey was made possible by them.  They cried with me, laughed   with me, hurt with me and supported me at every turn.  And they are still my motivation along with many  others I have come to know and love.

     

    What was and still is your inspiration? My daughter.  She was diagnosed at the age of 16  . with a rare sarcoma in her foot. At that time the only treatment was surgery.  She was athletic and smart and was just beginning to blossom into a beautiful young lady when she was told that she would probably lose her leg.  She had to leave school in the spring, travel to the Mayo Clinic and remain there for some time for the surgery and reconstruction.  We call her our “miracle” because she did not lose her leg, only a portion of her foot which was reconstructed. During all of that time, she kept her sweet smile, encouraged other young people in pediatrics and never complained.  For many years thereafter and even today she is still watched closely.   I have never heard her ask “What if?”  Who could ask for better inspiration?

     

    What were your lowest and highest moments? There’s an easy answer for that.  My lowest was the diagnosis and the highest of course was the last day of my treatment and the announcement that my scans were clear. Throughout this 10 years I have had other moments of anxiety when a new lump would occur or a new pain or some other symptom that I thought must be a recurrence.  Once, I even had a bone scan that indicated the cancer may have metastasized.  With further checking all of the above only proved to be false alarms.  As a cancer survivor, you have to learn to live with and manage so many anxieties and fears.

     

    Are there any special memories you can share with us? There are so many some serious, some sad and some funny. One year at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, I was still going through chemotherapy. I gave my oncologist strict orders that whatever he did, my treatment schedule must be scheduled around the tournament, and he did that.  But neither the doctor nor I anticipated a drop in my white blood count that would require daily injections, which could be given by the oncology nurse or by my husband after proper instruction.  Determined not to miss the games, we headed off to Greensboro with a cooler full of drugs, rented a refrigerator, and I endured my husband’s daily injections.  Needless to say, I consider myself a true Wolfpacker.

     

    One of the most precious memories is the day my husband shaved my head.  Chemo generally causes one to lose their hair and I was no exception.   Hair had been falling everywhere for several days and he lovingly suggested that we just shave off the rest.  Shortly thereafter my son and daughter came by and when they say my bald head the thought of their mom having cancer became a reality.  We hugged and shed our tears and knew that together we would fight this battle.

     

    On the best and last day of my treatment, I dressed in my Sunday best high heels, jewelry, makeup and headed to the cancer clinic with not wig, no hat, no scarf just my beautiful bald head and a big smile on my face.  My family called it my “coming out” party.  As I entered the clinic for the last time I was met by friends I had made on the road to recovery.  We shared hugs and tears and celebrated my victory and were hopeful for the day they too would complete their

    cancer treatments.  Such friends as these are a special gift in one’s lifetime.    

     

    How has Kay Yow’s breast cancer fight affected you and other survivors? Kay Yow is one of those special gifts in a lifetime.  Breast cancer patients and survivors view her as our sister.  She is our inspiration.  She is the coach of our breast cancer team throughout the world.  We try to follow her example of courage, kindness, love and faith.  She has shown us that we must never give up.  Coach Yow has said that cancer is our worst opponent but working together as a team we will win. We love her and she makes us all proud to be Wolfpackers.

     

    You have participated in Hoops for Hope from the beginning.  What are your feeling about

    this function and the Survivor’s Walk? “Hoops for Hope” provides a way for me as a cancer survivor to personally share my cancer experience with family, friends, fans and community.  When we take part in the Survivor’s Walk, we share a bonding that is appreciated by each of us because we have similar experiences.  It is out public message to those who may face a cancer diagnosis in the future that there is hope.  We are saying that we understand the challenges such a diagnosis may bring because we have experienced them. “Hoops for Hope” creates awareness of breast cancer and initiatives such as this enhance our research progress and brings us closer to a cure. Personally, I am saying to all who are present that I am alive, doing well and proud of it.  I have overcome nausea, weakness, chemotherapy and radiation to reach this point.  Should this ever happen to you, you can too.

     

    You may contact Tim Peeler at tim_peeler@ncsu.edu.

     


     

     

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