Remembering Coach Kay Yow

Throughout the month of October, U Chic has been working hard to raise money for breast cancer (there’s still time to pick up our book — a percentage of the net proceeds from each purchase will be donated to breast cancer research through the end of the month). But breast cancer isn’t just a disease – it has a face, a person, and family attached to each diagnosis. Many women view it with fear and as a possible death sentence, but others like Coach Kay Yow looked at it as a battle to be conquered and a message to be sent: We WILL beat this.

Coach Yow was a force to be reckoned both on and off the basketball courts. Since the very beginning of her career, she never backed down from a challenge. From college championship games to the Summer Olympics, Coach Yow was fearless, determined, and single-minded. Despite being diagnosed with breast cancer a year prior to the Seoul Olympics in 1988, she still managed to rally and lead the team to a gold medal victory.

“Kay would discuss her cancer when asked,” says Gail Goestenkors, head coach for the University of Texas’ women’s basketball team (Goestenkors was a friend and former rival of Coach Yow’s during Goestenkors tenure with Duke University). “Its not something she would dwell upon and certainly never complained about. She talked openly about treating cancer as she would an opponent…working with her team to fight the battle, never giving in or giving up…knowing that one day we would beat this deadly disease.”

Yow never hid the fact that she was sick — she embraced it. It was her honesty and optimism that inspired others to join her in the creation of The Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund®. The organization was founded in 2007, and has since dedicated itself to “finding an answer in the fight against women’s cancers through raising money for scientific research, assisting the underserved and unifying people for a common cause.” As Goestenkors points out, this mission statement is exactly in synch with Yow’s vision. “[She]was a warm and wonderful person always reaching out to others. She had a quiet strength and grace that was an inspiration to us all. She was also deeply spiritual and introspective, but would gladly and easily share her love and faith with others.”

This point truly hit home when Yow finally succumbed to Stage 4 breast cancer in January of 2009. Instead of allowing her funeral to be a time of sadness and mourning, Yow recorded a 25-minute message of thanks to all her fans, friends, family, and supporters. “Kay left so many messages for us,” Goestenkors notes. “The greatest gift she gave us was her unyielding faith in God and in humanity. She saw the good in everyone and made us want to give more and BE more. Kay was a precious gift to us all. And her legacy of faith, hope and goodness will live on within us forever.”

U Chic isn’t the only partner supporting the The Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund® this month. Make a fashion purchase through PrivacyWear, and a portion of proceeds will go to breast cancer research.

Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!