On Sept. 26, 2007, the same day she was selected the NAIA National Soccer Player of the Week, Mansell was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, a double masectomy and reconstruction.
She returned to the Coyotes softball team in 2010, where the shortstop/left fielder started 27-of-29 games and hit .241.
Today, Mansell is 25 with a degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice, a job with the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections and a husband, Scott. More importantly, five years and a week after her diagnosis, she remains in remission.
Here are Mansells five tips to becoming a breast cancer survivor:
Perform self checks even if youre young
I found a lump, and if I had not said anything right away, it could have been worse. I was already a Stage II when I was diagnosed and was only 20 years old. You can never be too cautious perform checks often and start yourself and your kids at a young age. If you are concerned about a lump, get it checked ASAP. Twenty percent of all breast cancer cases occur in women 30 or younger. Early detection is the key to survival.
If you have a friend or family member diagnosed with cancer, and you dont know what to say, just say that. Relationships can be lost because you dont know the right thing to say. There is no right thing to say, just tell them you care for them and you are here when they need help, distractions or comfort.
I have found a lot of comfort and healing in reaching out to other survivors and getting myself involved in breast cancer-related events. I attended support groups at the Nampa Mountain States Tumor Institute, kept in touch with other survivors, spoke at my college and at SpurWing Country Club to raise awareness for young women who are affected by this disease. Ive shed tears of joy and sadness, but I feel freed from the disease. In a way, it gave me a chance to control my life instead of the cancer controlling me.
Get up, walk, run, jog, do yoga, zumba, anything to get yourself up and moving. During my treatments, I enjoyed going to softball practice everyday. It gave me a reason to get out of bed and stop feeling sorry for myself. Decreasing body weight can be a great way to help prevent cancer and it makes you feel better about yourself.
Some survivors do not want to talk about their experiences. Some do. I was surprised at how many people wanted to ask questions to understand what I was going through, but they felt scared to ask. I was very open to questions and wanted to share my experience. If we can all start talking about it and stop being so afraid, we can understand what women and men are going though and help make an impact on their lives. Sharing my story has been a huge part of my recovery.