My mom won her fight

Courtesy of Essence Carson

New York Liberty veteran Essence Carson with her mom Stacey Ransaw.

In November 2006, my mother, Stacey Ransaw, was diagnosed with breast cancer. As a student-athlete at Rutgers University, my season was just underway when she broke the news. An unexpected twist in life's long road was thrown in the mix and threw me for loop. While sitting across from my mom thoughts raced through my mind in 100-meter dash fashion. Would these next few months, weeks, days and/or hours be the last shared with her? Would this be the last time I would be able to admire her beautiful, long locks? Would this be the last time she'd be able to reassure me that everything would indeed be okay? An endless list of unanswered questions compiled in the matter of 10 seconds. Those 10 seconds seemed to last forever in my mind-- but not long enough to ease my heart.

Despite my mom's positive approach to beginning her fight with breast cancer, walking away from the conversation never allowed me to be at ease. Not only was she beginning her battle, I was also beginning a battle. No, my battle wasn't that signified by a pink ribbon, but it was with myself. Accustomed to prevailing in whatever challenge presented itself, I seemed to be facing an opponent that few defeated -- especially those watching from outside of the ring. I was forced to watch from afar. Forced to witness this disease take cheap shots on someone so loving, caring and innocent. Secretly, I became enraged. I quickly realized anger drained every bit of strength and energy I had left in my own body. If my heart was telling me I was my mother's tag-team partner in this fight, how dare I allow my mind fall to defeat? It wasn't fair to me, but more importantly it wasn't fair to her.

I watched my mother prepare for her battle by becoming strengthened by spiritual guidance and her support system. She stepped into the ring with an opponent whose track record would lead you to believe her chances were slim. Each step of the way I watched, I prayed and remained mentally tough. Surrounding my mother with positive energy and thoughts became my No. 1 priority. I played every game for her. Every time I won it was a win for her. After starting out 2-6, Rutgers University went on to win its first Big East Championship and advance to the NCAA title game (lead by breast cancer survivor C. Vivian Stringer). I guess my mom and I had something in common. We persevered. She won her battle with breast cancer. I won my internal battle. She took every shot cancer threw at her. The Rutgers University women's basketball team took every shot the Big East, NCAA and appropriately last -- Imus -- had for us. It will forever be remembered as a year of perseverance.

Lastly, if my mom hadn't gone for yearly checkup she wouldn't have detected the presence of cancer. If she hadn't detected the presence of cancer she wouldn't have witnessed a history-making season. If she hadn't witnessed my history-making season, I wouldn't have had the courage to face a broadcast icon (some say) toe-to-toe. She fought, she won, she gave me strength...but it all began with a check-up. Do your part in this worldwide battle with breast cancer -- promote breast health awareness.

-- EC17