Meet Kassidy Walters. Kassidy is a College basketball player, a 2022 Conference champ, a student, a friend, a daughter and a cancer survivor. Kassidy entered her freshman season at Ripon College and like many college athletes, was struggling to adjust to the new lifestyle. Basketball is more demanding plus balancing all the school work, it can truly be exhausting. Kassidy was struggling to compete in practices and began to think she wasn't cut out for the whole college basketball thing but little did she know, she was facing something bigger than school work and conditioning drills, she was battling cancer. Today, she shares a part of her story and how her basketball community at Ripon College became one of her biggest support groups. Kassidy is a fighter, a survior and an incredible inspiration for all!
If it wasn’t for having cancer my freshman year in college, I wouldn’t have the perspective I do today. In December of 2018, I found out that I had a softball sized tumor in my chest and could not return to Ripon College to play basketball until I found out what was wrong. I received a call from St. Louis Children’s Hospital a couple days after Christmas and was asked if I could still breathe ok and told to get there as soon as possible so they could get scans done.
In January of 2019, I found out that I had Stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. This was a scary time for my family, friends, teammates, and coaches. I on the other hand felt confident that I could beat this and was determined to still be a part of the team in any way I could. I facetimed for every practice and watched every game, giving words of encouragement when I could. On some of my darkest days while taking chemotherapy, I always looked forward to seeing my teammates over the phone and talking to my coaches. This was my escape from reality for a couple hours everyday.
To say that I remained positive throughout my battle with cancer, is not a lie. However, I wouldn’t be sharing the real, raw, authentic truth of it all. I missed being the person I used to be and going through the gradual physical changes really took a toll on me. I had a lot taken away from me that was out of my control.
I think it’s important for athletes to realize that things may not always go our way. Whether it’s from a sickness, injury, on the court adversity, or in life, like with Covid right now. Something that has always truly helped me is how my coaches have taught us that it’s all about our response to the setback that matters the most.
I had to be reminded that my feelings, thoughts, and emotions were valid, but I also had to learn how to sit with them. It was up to me to give in to the negative thoughts or think about how I could use these challenges I was facing as strengths for myself and my team. The one thing that is always in our control, is our attitude and how we approach everyday. I may not always be the best at it and still struggle from time to time, but I try to approach everyday as another day to be better than the person I was yesterday and sometimes that’s all we can do.
I’m appreciative of the life I’ve been given and all the challenges I have faced thus far because I truly believe it has given me a better perspective to live by. I found this quote a year after being cancer free and this is what I challenge everyone else to live by too. “Everyday may not be a good day, but there is always something good in every day.”
Life is going to be full of highs and lows, just the same as it is on the basketball court, but what matters the most is how you respond by attacking each day with purpose and a grateful heart.
- Kassidy Walters