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Holidays were wonderful for NCSU's coach Kay Yow

Posted Friday, January 5, 2007

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Raleigh, NC - NC State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow is on an indefinite leave of absence from the Wolfpack while receiving chemotherapy treatments for her recurrence of breast cancer, was particularly good for the Hall of Fame coach, and she shares her good news below.

The holidays were wonderful for my family and me. Christmas was the week after my biggest chemotherapy treatments in the recurring four-week cycle, so I didn’t know how I would feel. The Wednesday before Christmas was they day of my most difficult treatment, and Thursday and Friday I was not feeling quite as well as I would have liked, but that was to be expected. I was still much better than it could have been. By Sunday, Christmas Eve, I was feeling much better and I had the chance to be with my family. I had Christmas Eve dinner with my dad, Hilton Yow, and two of my siblings. We had a room reserved at the rest home in Cary where my father lives, with a catered meal. We had dinner with him and he opened all his presents. Then, after we had dinner with him, we came back to my place and we all opened our gifts here. That included Susan, my brother Ronnie, my three nephews, Jason, Zach and Dylan, and Jason’s girlfriend, Melissa.

I was able to spend most of Christmas Day with my 92-year-old aunt, Maibelle Whitaker, the only living relative on my mother’s side of the family. She is living with one of her sons in High Point. We have always spent Christmas Day with her and have always been able to take daddy there. She lost two of her sisters this past year. My mother was the youngest of four sisters, but she died 13 years ago, and two of her other sisters died this past year. My aunt called to say she really wanted us to come and spend another Christmas Day with her. So I went with Susan and our double-first cousin, Lethe Yow Walters, to visit her.

Mainly, what I got for Christmas was some extremely good news. About two weeks ago, I had some blood tests to check the number of tumor cells in my blood because we needed to see if the chemo was helping to reduce the numbers. It was after the first four-week cycle. And after the first cycle, the blood tests showed that the number of tumor cells has dropped greatly. I really consider this a miracle and a healing touch by God on my body. I know that God is working through my oncologist, Dr. Mark Graham, as he decides on the amount of drugs he uses for my treatment. On Jan. 15, I am going to have another blood test to see if I am holding the course of the number of tumor cells, or if they might even be lower. I may also have a PET (Positron emission tomography) scan to confirm the results of the blood test. These tests will be very important in determining when I might be able to return to the court. It is a possibility.

The next tests could show something completely different, but it’s wonderful to get the first tests back and see the numbers drop. It’s a wonderful first step. I am very anxious to getting the next blood test and the PET scan. If it confirms what the first blood test showed, then I think I will have a chance to be back on the court sometime soon. I would have to still have some modifications to my schedule. I will still be taking chemo. But as far as returning to practice and to games, I will have a very good shot to do that if those tests confirm everything. It won’t mean that the cancer has gone, but it means that it has moved to a position that we have gotten under control.

So I want everyone to know that I will treasure their continued prayers for these upcoming tests. I will continue my chemo treatments, no matter what. But if the chemo keeps being effective, it will help me do a lot of things. I am now in my third week of the second cycle. I am doing well for what is happening to my body. I do have a few side effects, but it could be so much worse.

I wanted to say that my wig, hats and scarves are serving me well, because I like variety in my life. I have about 25 pairs of new dangling earrings. This has been a fun part to choose a different pair each day. A friend who knows me well gave me most of them as a Christmas gift. Since I like choices, as everyone who travels with me knows, this has been right down my alley.

I think that the staff and the team have been playing under great emotional conditions. I think it has been a tough stretch for everybody. The fact that they have persevered through it, the team and the staff, says a lot about them and their character because, emotionally I think we have been on a little bit of a roller coaster from not knowing what to expect. I think they have really hung in there tough. I think they are making progress and getting better each and every week. It is a tough blend with six seniors and six freshmen. I think that blend continues to get better. I can’t say enough about how great a job I think the staff and the players are doing under some tough circumstances.

I have had many e-mails regarding my positive attitude, and I would like to speak to this a little more. First, I thank God for allowing me to see early in life that attitude is the key to success. It affects every facet of our lives. Since it is a choice, we make decisions about how we will play the cards dealt to us. I once read a speech by Jesse Owens on how to handle hurts. He said you could curse hurts, be really angry about what has happened to you. You could nurse hurts, feel pity for yourself, perhaps wallow in self-pity and drown. I have always told my players when they were injured seriously that it is all right to be a little down. It’s human nature. But you should just swish your feet a little and get out; don’t wallow around drown in self-pity. Another way people handle hurts is to rehearse them, to talk about them over and over and never get past them. To talk about why it should have never happened to them. But the best way to handle hurts is to reverse them. This is when you turn a lemon into lemonade, where you become bitter or better as a result of how you handle your hurt. I have always remembered this speech and know that you have to have the ability to overcome obstacles and adversity to become successful. This is done by your mindset of making adversity work for you instead of against you. Is this easy? No. But as you practice looking for the positive, it becomes easier to find it.

I have a lot of e-mails about the acronym of “joy” – Jesus, Others and Yourself. I have another acronym that I like for the word “grace” – God’s riches at Christ’s expense. We, as believers in Jesus as our savior and Lord have available to us all the riches of God, which include joy, peace and love, among many other gifts. We can have faith because Jesus died on the cross of our sins and was resurrected by the power of almighty God. By God’s grace and Jesus’ sacrifice of his life, we can have eternal and abundant life through faith in him. John 3:16 tells us of God’s great love.

If I had a resolution for the New Year, it would be this: “I press on, not in my own strength, but in His, always claiming in his faithfulness.”

Here are a few other thoughts and verses that I have been thinking about recently, with a couple of additions that I have made for me:

  • “Though I know not the way he leads me, well do I know my Guide.
  • “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”
  • Psalms 18:28: “Lord, you light my lamp, my God, illuminates my darkness. With you, I can attack a barrier (cancer), and with my God, I can jump over walls.”
  • Psalms 18:39-48: “You have clothed me with strength for battle. You subdue my adversaries beneath me. You have made my enemies (tumor cells) retreat before me.”
  • Psalms 54:4: “God is my helper, the Lord is the sustainer of my life.”
  • Psalms 68-19: “May the Lord be praised. Day after day, he bears our burdens. God is our salvation.”
Finally, I want to thank each and every person for the e-mails, the cards, the calls. I feel God’s presence in each of them. My gratitude is great. I simply want to say thank you all. I feel blessed. I really feel the power of the prayers. I also continue to hear from people who are fighting a similar battle with cancer. It is a privilege and honor for me to put them on my prayer list.
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Holidays were wonderful for NCSU's coach Kay Yow
NC State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow.
photo by Gene Galin

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