We talked about the Kay Yow Foundation. We talked about Coach Yow and her courageous battle with this insidious disease, we talked about the power of our platform as a collegiate team of women, and we talked about the symbolism of a ladder in our gym all off season: the daily reminder it could be to us of where we want to go and what it takes to get there.
Then I launched my plan for our pink ladder. I introduced our team to the concept of six-word memoirs: life statements power packed into only six words, usually simple ones strung together in formidable ways. (Think Twitter as a euphemistic Shrinky Dink.) There is a website; I have a book. We looked at examples — some created raucous laughter, others brought tears. Then I asked our team to come up with their own six-word memoirs reflective of their lives as athletes. What six words could encapsulate their respective journeys?
I gave them one week to formulate their own and tattoo it on the pink ladder in Sharpie marker. Their words would be a territorial mark on the symbolic tool that would spur them on over the summer months.
You could almost see the wheels racing in their heads. This group “got it.” They would run with this idea. I could tell. And I could not wait to see what next Wednesday held.
Then on Friday, life threw us a curve ball, and the ladder took on a life of its own.
The biopsy came back positive
My 16-year assistant, my college teammate, the maid of honor at my wedding, and my team’s rudder had breast cancer.
It was the call you never want to get. The words you never want to hear. Reality morphed immediately into a slow-motion slosh through phone calls and emails and ‘to do’ lists that helped us feel like we were somehow in charge of it all, though deep down inside we knew we were running in place.