The Penn State Lady Lions might have dropped their game against Ohio State 89-64 on Sunday, but the mood inside the Bryce Jordan Center was hardly one of defeat.
Clad all in pink with T-shirts, feather boas, hats, wigs and beads, 552 breast cancer survivors totaling 3,451 years, seven months and 20 days, flooded the court along with their friends and family at halftime to celebrate survival, to remember those who passed and honor the bonds they’ve made with others along the way.
Donning a bright pink wig, Heather Wilson, who’s coming up on her third year as a survivor, came from Silver Springs, Md., with a group of friends from multiple different states to attend this year’s Play4Kay benefiting Pink Zone game. She had supported her friend, nine-year survivor Pat Miller, of Allentown, and celebrated her years of survival by coming to Pink Zone games long before ever being diagnosed herself.
As a fairly new survivor, Wilson said the solidarity she feels with others at Pink Zone has been the most meaningful part of the event.
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“Seeing people that had been many years survivors, there were people that were 30-plus years down there on the floor today, and that’s incredibly inspiring,” she said. “Also to see just the kind of random support from people to whom it’s meaningful who aren’t direct survivors themselves, but maybe they’re affected because of a family member lost, or something of that nature — and it’s incredible.”
Diane Crebs, a 15-year survivor from State College, volunteers for Pink Zone each year as a way to give back to those who had supported her.
“That’s one thing that breast cancer taught me, to help other people and to help other survivors through the transition because your life changes when you hear those three words: ‘You have cancer,’ ” she said.
When Crebs was diagnosed, she didn’t know many other people who had gone through breast cancer. By getting involved in Pink Zone and Breast Cancer Support Group Centre Region, she said she was able to connect with others who understood what she was going through.
“It just lets me know I’m not out there by myself, that I do have help,” she said.
It’s that sense of community that Lady Lions’ coach Coquese Washington said makes her most proud of Pink Zone.
“I’m really pleased with what we do on this day to honor survivors, to honor the families who are supporting their loved ones as they are going through this day, a day that they can remember, outside of what happens on the basketball court,” she said. “Just knowing that there is a community of people who care, that there is a community of people working to help make survivors’ lives better, to make their treatment better, working to find a cure, that there’s a community of people who care and who find their battle really important.”
Breast Cancer Support Group Centre Region
What: “Resilience,” presented by Sharon Schott, licensed professional counselor
When: 5:30 p.m. on March 7 and April 4
Where: Conference Room 2 at Mount Nittany Medical Center
For more info or to RSVP: email BCSGcentreregion @gmail.com