Until There’s a Cure, Fight On
October is breast cancer awareness month and the GOPB
celebrates all our breast cancer survivors!
When Brenda Peddycoart and Connie Burnett step on a pickleball court every dink, drop and volley means so much more.
Recently competing together in the Texas Open, winning gold in 4.0 Women’s Doubles is not just another victory on the court for these 2 athletes, but also a victory against the deadly enemy they both faced, breast cancer.
They agreed to share a little about their stories in order to aid in early detection and treatment of this disease that 1 in 8 women in the US will face.
Connie, 6 year survivor.
In 2014 Connie was diagnosed with stage 3C invasive ductal carcinoma. A surgeon performed a mastectomy and removed tumors in multiple lymph nodes. She needed to be treated with several chemotherapy agents, and received multiple rounds of proton radiation. She is extremely grateful for the love and support her friends and family provided during that difficult time. After additional surgeries for breast reconstruction, Connie made a conscious choice to shift from fighting the illness to living life. Having always enjoyed competing in sports, she played basketball at the National Senior Games in Alabama in 2017. Then she discovered pickleball.
“Having a serious illness makes me truly appreciate the opportunity to learn a new game, to be challenged and to try to improve. Participating in pickleball helps me feel like Connie….not Connie with cancer. I enjoy the exercise and competition, but mostly enjoy the friendships I have made. I just think if somebody’s going through it right now, maybe in the mix of chemo or radiation, and they’re bald, it’s just a hard time. To know that if you can just work hard and get past that and things return to normal in some ways, you appreciate things more.”
Brenda, 26 year survivor
In the summer of 1994, Brenda was a 32 year old healthy, active mother of a very busy 2 year old boy when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She remembers thinking it had to be a mistake. It simply could not be breast cancer! However, a surgeon removed 3 cancerous lumps with the largest being almost 4 cm. The cancer was also present in 4 lymph nodes. She kept asking, “why would this be happening to me?” After the initial shock, she prayed and decided to turn it over to the Lord.
“The chemotherapy was harder on my body and mind than I ever expected. However, I was blessed to have a wonderful supporting family and friends who prayed and helped me stay strong. After the chemo and radiation, I realized the good things that happened to me during treatment far outweighed the bad. Through God’s grace, I’m now a 26 year survivor! I’ve learned to be more thankful and enjoy life more and pickleball is a huge part of that! Practicing and competing keeps me active both physically and mentally. More importantly, I’ve met some wonderful people and gained so many new friends through the wonderful sport of pickleball!”
If you are lucky enough to find yourself on the pickleball court with either of these two ladies, remember they are survivors and too determined to be defeated!
written by Denise Brinkworth