Feb. 17, 2012
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By John Denton
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Statistics don't always register even when they are as shocking to the system as this particular one: One in eight women will have to endure a battle with breast cancer at some point in her life.
"Think of it like this: If you look at a basketball roster of 13, there's a good chance that one of your sisters right here on this team could be affected," UCF assistant coach Bob Starkey said.
UCF (12-12, 7-5 C-USA) hosts Memphis (19-6, 9-3 C-USA) on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the annual Susan G. Komen Pink Game in an effort to promote breast cancer awareness among young females. Attendance is free for those who wear pink, and players from both teams are expected to wear pink decals, wristbands and shoe strings in an effort to shed more light on the importance of early detection as it relates to breast cancer.
The game is also important to UCF for more personal reasons. Starkey's wife, Sherie, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. After undergoing a four-year battle with the disease, Sherie has been given a cancer-free diagnosis.
Early detection was likely a life-saver for Sherie, Starkey said. Because she had detected lumps years earlier, she underwent mammograms twice a year. One of those tests found a cancerous lump and she was determined to have had an especially aggressive kind of breast cancer.
Sherie ultimately underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. More testing showed that the cancer had returned so she had a double mastectomy, and has since been diagnosed as being "totally cancer free."
"We're really blessed," Starkey said. "One thing I found out through the whole process was that my wife is a heck of a lot tougher than I am.
"This game means everything to me because of what it stands for," Starkey continued. "My wife is here today because of early detection. So the more awareness that there is, the more opportunities there are to save lives. We want to honor the (Susan G.) Komen Foundation and all that they do. This disease affects one in eight women with some form of breast cancer, and we want to try and bring as much attention to the awareness as we can."
John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at firstname.lastname@example.org.