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The Fight: Xavier Athletics battles cancer

By Sabrina Brown
On April 18, 2012

Cancer. It's only a six-letter word, but for some members of

the Xavier sports community, it's an integral part of their lives. For Xavier's Athletic Department secretary of 14 years

Carol Maas, it's a daily fight. Maas was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer on May 13, 2011. "I was kind of in disbelief at first. I was this really healthy person. I had walked every day and had only ever taken a multi-vitamin, no medicines," Maas said. "It kind of felt like my world was

crashing in on me when I first heard the diagnosis." After she got over the initial shock, Maas was determined to

keep a positive attitude, but her battle with cancer has been anything but easy. A few months into her treatment, she started having trouble breathing. Maas thought that it was simply a side-effect of her sixteen chemotherapy treatments, but it turned out to be something much more serious: chemo-induced heart failure. "I had heart failure, blood clots in both of my legs and pneumonia, so I was hospitalized for about a week and recovered from that," Maas said. "I finished my chemo treatments Jan. 12, 2012,

and about a week or so later I completely passed out."

Maas then discovered that she had internal bleeding from a

chemo-induced ulcer. After being in thr ICU for about a week, Maas began her radiation treatments. "Compared to the chemo, that felt like a cakewalk. I'm done with everything," Maas said. "Now I just have to see if my heart gets stronger again to see if I can resume one of the treatments to keep the cancer from returning, another piece of the puzzle to help me not get this cancer back." Throughout her battle with cancer, what stood out to Maas

was not her hospital stays or her grueling chemo treatments, it was the response of her Xavier family. "It's something that, day in and day out, you live with. There's

not a day that you can wake up and forget about it. Coming to work has helped me. I love it here [Xavier Athletic offices]," Maas said. "I love Xavier. I've been here for 14 years, and these people are like my second family. They were very supportive, and that has been very positive."

Her colleagues arranged a team to participate in the breast cancer walk in October, but Maas' support did not end with her colleagues. "So many of the players and the student athletes, especially volleyball, men's basketball and women's basketball because those are the people I have contact with,

and all the baseball guys have all been so cool about wishing me well. It's just amazing how that positive energy can help you. You feed off of it," Maas said. In particular, Maas found frequent support from Xavier basketball star Tu Holloway, or as she refers to him, Terrell. Holloway made it a part of his daily routine to go visit Maas, to check in on her.

"When I was hospitalized the first time, I was so disappointed because I wanted to see one of their games, and Terrell called me at the hospital, wishing me good luck and good wishes," Maas said. While Holloway may have

been one of Maas' most frequent visitors, he was far from the only Xavier student-athlete to be a part of Maas' support group. Maas said she was humbled time and time again by the support she received, especially when she was honored at volleyball's Dig for the Cure game in October.

"You see someone every day, and then when something happens to them it's like, 'Oh man, that's kind of scary. That could happen to my mom or my best friend,'" Maas said.

That was just the case for sophomore runner Anna Ahlrichs.

When Ahlrichs was in sixth grade, one of her best friends was diagnosed with Leukemia. "She was at church one day, and she was really pale. Someone noticed and pointed out that it wasn't normal, so she went to the doctor. Two days later we found out she had leukemia," Ahlrichs said.

Ahlrichs recalls the next day at school, where she sat at lunch with her friends, crying and trying to comprehend what was happening to their friend. "We didn't know anyone our age who had cancer. Everyone we knew who had cancer was always older, someone's parent or grandparent," Ahlrichs said. "We were all really scared, but we knew we had to be there for her and support her." Her friend recovered after a year and now plays volleyball for

Shawnee State, but Ahlrichs will never forget the effect cancer can have. For both Maas and Ahlrichs, the most important part of this fight is finding a cure. Ahlrichs dreams of a cure for a sixth-grade girl and her family, a day when children won't have to try to comprehend the incomprehensible. Maas dreams of a cure for those younger and older than her. She dreams of a day where no one

will have to sit down in that chair to receive chemo. "I don't want to see anybody else have to go through the treatments. I wish that there was more I could do to help them, to prepare them, but I think if you told them everything they were really in for, they might not get in that darn chair, but you have to," Maas said. Battle. It's a six-letter word.

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