Coach Yow continues her fight against cancer

Published 9:18 am Tuesday, June 26, 2007

By By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
RALEIGH — Kay Yow is getting her energy back.
The Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach who inspired her North Carolina State players and countless others with her graceful fight against cancer says she has halted chemotherapy and is instead undergoing hormonal treatments that are far less draining.
Her auburn-brown wig replaced by her natural, close-cropped silver hair, Yow spoke at her summer camp after watching a television special produced by CSTV about her fight with breast cancer, which was first diagnosed in 1987 and recurred during the 2004-05 season.
Treatments forced her to miss 16 games last season, but her return invigorated the program as she led the Wolfpack to an emotion-fueled run to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game and into the NCAA tournament.
N.C. State upset No. 2 North Carolina on a Senior Night in which the Reynolds Coliseum floor was renamed ‘‘Kay Yow Court.’’ The Wolfpack also gave top-ranked Duke its first loss of the season in the ACC semifinals and won two NCAA tournament games to reach the round of 16 for the first time since 2001.
The exhilarating run and almost weekly chemotherapy sessions left Yow weakened, with the coach at times being helped to her feet because of numbness in her toes.
Doctors stopped chemotherapy two months ago because of toxicity in her body, Yow said. She said as long as her monthly tumor-cell counts stay below five — she said it previously was 197 — the current therapy may continue.
Yow’s accomplishments during her 36-season career include coaching the U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, and being inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2002.
Now she’s looking forward to her 37th season on the bench. In April, she signed a contract extension through the 2011-12 season.
Former player Kristen Gillespie, a Wolfpack point guard in the late 1990s, is counting on Yow to fulfill that term — and maybe even coach longer.