Saturday, August 13, the Indiana Fever hosts the New York Liberty for Breast Health Awareness Night presented by Community Health Network. A post-game live auction will include auction items such as the players' pink jerseys and shoes from Saturday's game. All proceeds benefit the breast health awareness and cancer research.
Fever guard Katie Douglas has lived through the personal trauma of cancer in her family. She has shared her thoughts openly and offers this perspective.
So many WNBA players have causes that we support, and all for good and justifiable reasons. The cause that I support, though, is personal. Cancer changed my life. I think I became a better and more determined person because of it, but it wasn't always so easy to say that.
Both of my parents fell victim to cancer. My father, Ken (pancreatic cancer, 1997), and mother, Karen (breast cancer, 2000), both lost their lives to cancer within three years of each other -- right in the middle of my high school and college career, and right during the time that my Purdue teammates and I won the NCAA title in 1999. My life was a whirlwind of emotion.
I was hurt. Besides their pain, I felt it too. I am most thankful for the dozens of family members and teammates and coaches who helped me through those dark times. While basketball became a refuge for me during those times, it was the friendships and helpful, caring embraces of those people closest to me that helped push me through my own struggles.
Yes, I definitely learned to persevere during times of difficulty. Yes, I became a stronger person and perhaps that has helped me in my basketball career. And it certainly is a message that I use when speaking to people about my experience.
But perhaps as much as I grew up and grew stronger as a result of my experience, I grew committed to doing my part to make a difference in the lives of those who undergo the same strife. That is why, during Breast Health Awareness Week every year in the WNBA, I am quick to offer my service to our league's great initiative.
The pink uniforms that we wear are a great symbol of the pride that we take in helping this cause. The pink colors and symbolism are really a fantastic way that we all can bond in this united effort -- fans, players, coaches and staff.
My team, the Indiana Fever, conducts a post-game live auction after our BHA game each season and last year raised over $44,000 for the Community Breast Health Fund. I offered a "Katie Douglas Experience" to fans, which amazingly drew a bid of $6,000 to watch us practice, shoot baskets with me after practice and then I took the winning family to lunch and an afternoon movie.
I'm pretty thrilled that someone would pay that much money to experience an afternoon with me like that. It's truly humbling. But I also know that the money donated was for the same cause that I represent. Any dollars spent or donated toward breast cancer research and the fight against cancer are absolutely needed and welcomed and encouraged. I can't tell you how much I want to see the time when we can cure this horrible disease.
I am fortunate to have this platform. So long as I do, I will always encourage the awareness for breast health and research.