By AWNYA GREENFIELD, TATIANA EASON and PROPHET DEVAUGHN
Thursday night, the Goldsboro High School gymnasium will host three basketball games against Midway, but something bigger than sports is set to take place, too — a “Pink Out” to raise awareness about breast cancer and raise money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
The young men and women on our junior varsity and varsity teams always play for the Cougars. But tomorrow, they will “Play4Kay.”
So who is Kay Yow? A Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach who sat at the end of the North Carolina State University bench from 1975 to 2009, Coach Yow became an inspiration to women around the world during her battle with cancer. Sure, during her career, she is credited with leading the Lady Wolfpack to more than 700 wins, 20 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, and a berth in the Final Four in 1988. But coaching a college team and during the Olympic Games and being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is only part of her story.
Her long battle with breast cancer and her efforts to promote research and raise awareness about the disease made her a global celebrity. And since the Kay Yow Cancer Fund was created in 2007, millions of dollars have been raised so that those, like Coach Yow, who lost their fights, did not do so in vain.
Hundreds of people are expected to show up to GHS tomorrow to participate in this amazing event. Pride journalist Tatiana Eason is one of them. Her reason for doing so, as you will read below, is personal.
I can still picture the small house that we lived in — how when I came home from school, I could smell what she was cooking for dinner.
I can still see her sitting on her chair and saying, “Hello, Baby. How was school?”
I remember how she would make me laugh when I was having a bad day — how she always seemed to bring smiles to my face when I needed it.
I miss those things now that she’s gone.
Because like so many people touched by cancer, I relive the moment that I heard about my grandmother’s passing. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. Just writing this makes me really emotional.
To me, Melanie Holmes was more than a woman who was born in October 23, 1955 — a Dillard High School graduate and somebody who obtained her secretary license. She was like a second mother to me. She was the only person I could talk to about the really hard stuff I was going through, like depression. She was there for me when my mother couldn’t be because she was always on drugs. She was something special — something I can’t ever replace.
That moment I knew that she passed away made my whole world crash. She was my role model. So the day we went to see her in a casket, I went through so many emotions.
People told me to keep my head up and that everything would be OK, but the real truth behind it all was that I was never going to be OK. I was in tears. My life was torn into pieces. I wouldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. My mother kept doing what she was doing and I was alone, in my own little world. In many ways, I still am.
But I have another reason to come to the “Pink Out” Thursday night. It’s not just to remember — and mourn — my grandmother again, but to fight alongside my other grandmother, Laura Fuller. Thankfully, she’s still with us today, but she’s fighting the same disease. She has always been beside me, since I was little, so tomorrow night, I’ll be beside her.
I believe that my other grandmother will be there, too — in spirit. And hopefully, when I graduate, my grandma will see me from Heaven. I want to make her proud. And I want to feel that same warm feeling I used to get when she was smiling when I would come through the door.
Everybody touched by cancer has their own story and none of them are exactly the same. Nobody saw what I saw. I saw a bright light that will always push away the shadows that I used to get when I was younger and nobody can ever take that away from me — not as long as I live — and no one could ever replace her.
I hope to see all of you at the “Pink Out” so that we can raise enough money to end breast cancer once and for all. I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I went through. And I want my grandma to know that I won’t stop fighting until I honor her memory by doing my part to put an end to all the pain this disease causes.