For some, breast cancer may be a statistic. For others, it may be a cause to bring awareness. But for UCF volleyball player Taylor Wickey, breast cancer is something that has had an impact on her life and her family’s lives as well.
“My grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was younger, and I remember how it affected my family,” Wickey said. “It was stressful on my grandpa and my mom. We were worried about what was going to happen.”
Her grandmother, Lucile Siedlyk, was one of the lucky women who beat the disease.
According to BreastCancer.org, 12.4 percent of women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lives. In 2015, new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to reach 231,840; new cases of non-invasive breast cancer are expected to reach 60,290, and an estimated 40,290 women will die from breast cancer this year.
Due in part to increased awareness, death rates from breast cancer have been declining since 1989.
“I haven’t had any personal experiences with breast cancer, but I can just imagine how taxing it is on the person and the family as well — how brave and how strong they have to be to overcome something like that,” senior Dana Faught said.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual movement to bring a spotlight to the disease.
When UCF hosted SMU on Oct. 16, the Knights brought awareness to a side of life much larger than the game of volleyball as they donned pink jerseys to support the cause.
“I love that our sport has jumped on board. Breast cancer is definitely something that has affected all of us,” head coach Todd Dagenais said. “To have that honor, to celebrate survivors, to remember those we have lost and to find a way to raise awareness to get a cure for those down the road is nice that our sport gets behind it.”
Faught said: “That’s why every October we try to do our best by wearing pink at one of our home matches to help support that. I think it is a great cause, and we try to show our support as much as we can.”
While people may be mindful of breast cancer, many may forget to take the necessary steps to spot the disease in its early stages and inspire others to do the same. The Knights saw an opportunity to use their collegiate platform to raise awareness.
“There are bigger things than volleyball, and I think that’s what it shows,” senior Abbie Fleener said. “There are so many families that are affected by breast cancer and it is nice to support a good cause.”
Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer causes more deaths in women in the U.S. than any other type of cancer.
“The treatments are hard to go through, and that’s very physically demanding,” Wickey said. “What she had to go through, struggle through, and to see how strong of a person you have to be to overcome something like that, it was definitely an eye-opening experience.”
Jimmy Calhoun is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.