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It takes grit and toughness to play for a Division I basketball program like that of the University of Pittsburgh. Kyla Nelson has plenty of that and more.


In August of 2019, the junior guard underwent surgery for appendicitis. A few weeks later, her doctors told her that they discovered a cancerous tumor in her appendix. On October 1st, Nelson had surgery to remove it.

“I’m a person who worries and cares about a lot of things,” Nelson WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh. “And I think after going through this it made me realize what’s important and what’s not. It put things in perspective.”

Nelson realized the deep importance of basketball in her life, and she returned to the court on December 17, just six weeks after her surgery. Nelson played 13 minutes, scoring three points while chipping in three assists in the team’s loss to Miami University of Ohio.

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“I don’t think I have processed it because I don’t think I processed it from three months ago,” Nelson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It’s hard to really put into words. It was just great being back out there with the team.”

Holly Rowe of ESPN was covering the game and had an immediate bond with Nelson. Rowe is a cancer survivor and someone Nelson looks up to.

“Holly is a huge inspiration,” Nelson told TribLive. ”With everything she has been through, she came to see me. I told her I was sorry because when she came I hadn’t done my hair yet. I didn’t know she was coming.”

Photo Credit: Google Reuse, Instagram