Coach Yow Getting Her Energy Back
The Hall of Fame women's basketball coach who inspired her North Carolina State players and countless others with her graceful fight against cancer says she has halted chemotherapy and is instead undergoing hormonal treatments that are far less draining.
``This treatment versus the tough chemo drugs going in every week, it's so much better,'' Yow said Monday. ``The hard chemo just zaps your energy, a lot of side issues that you have to deal with. ... Every day that I'm away from chemo, it seems that I have more and more energy. It just feels so good to be able to do something and not just be short of breath and feel really tired. It's a wonderful feeling.''
Her auburn-brown wig replaced by her natural, close-cropped silver hair, Yow spoke at her summer camp after a television special aired about her fight with breast cancer, which was first diagnosed in 1987 and recurred during the 2004-05 season.
Treatments forced her to miss 16 games last season, but her return invigorated the program as she led the Wolfpack to an emotion-fueled run to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game and into the NCAA tournament.
N.C. State upset No. 2 North Carolina on a Senior Night in which the Reynolds Coliseum floor was renamed ``Kay Yow Court.'' The Wolfpack also gave top-ranked Duke its first loss of the season in the ACC semifinals and won two NCAA tournament games to reach the round of 16 for the first time since 2001.
The exhilarating run and almost weekly chemotherapy sessions left Yow weakened, with the coach at times being helped to her feet because of numbness in her toes.
Doctors stopped chemotherapy two months ago because of toxicity in her body, Yow said. She said as long as her monthly tumor-cell counts stay below five - she said it previously was 197 - the current therapy may continue.
``The hormonal treatment may have a few issues, but they are small issues compared to what I was going through,'' Yow said.
Yow's accomplishments during her 36-season career include coaching the U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, and being inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2002.
Now she's looking forward to her 37th season on the bench. In April, she signed a contract extension through the 2011-12 season.
``The contract extension for me was a vote of confidence and support,'' she said. ``I feel like they stepped out and really came with such a vote of confidence and showed me just how much support they have for me.''
Former player Kristen Gillespie, a Wolfpack point guard in the late 1990s, is counting on Yow to fulfill that term - and maybe even coach longer.
``With this cancer, you have to have a faith that you're going to beat it,'' Gillespie said. ``Everyone's rallying around coach, and we're expecting her to coach until 10 years from now, 12 years, whenever she's tired of coaching.''