ST. LOUIS — You may have heard the mantra -- "Life isn’t about what happens to you but how you react to it." Well, Kassidy Walters needs to be the slogan's poster-child.
The Greenfield, Illinois native played just 11 games for the Ripon College Red Hawks (WI) before being diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Yet, even as she gets her cancer treatment, she continues to be a part of her team 450 miles away, all smiles, through video chat.
“Every day they have practice. Except Sundays. I face-time my coach still," Kassidy said.
The college freshman has been undergoing chemotherapy at St. Louis Children's Hospital for the last two months.
She doesn't miss a day of practice, her coaches and teammates taking turns holding the phone so that she can see every minute of action, even during games.
“I think with this, it puts my mind on something else," she said. “It feels good still feeling connected, getting to see and talk to everyone. But I also think it helps me want to get well faster so that I can get back."
Her doctor has been impressed with her devotion to her team while battling cancer, even noting that he understands she's learned to shoot left handed while she has her IV planted in her right arm.
“We had to make sure she had good use of her arm and she’s actually learning how to shoot a basketball with her other arm so that she can continue to play during her treatment because she doesn’t want to miss practice," said Dr. Alok Kothari, Children’s Hospital St. Louis pediatric hematologist.
Kassidy's prognosis looks great.
Her tumors have shrunk considerably and it's likely she'll be able to return to the team for next season.
“It’s amazing to see all their support and it’s overwhelming. But it’s nice to still feel connected. I think everyone always wants to feel loved and involved and they do a really good job of that," she said.
“I think it made me feel better knowing that I’m still part of the team and I did well and I’ll eventually come back to playing again," she said.
Kassidy is just as proud to be a Ripon Red Hawk as she is someone other cancer survivors can look up to.
“I’m on the team but there’s lots of other people that have those problems, so it gives us a bigger purpose to play for every day," she said.
“Have a strong mental mind and push through because not everything bad lasts forever.”