Orlando Pride nutritionist Rikki Keen was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. As an active and healthy young woman, she never expected to have such a life-altering health issue early in life. However, Keen learned that everyone, no matter their age or health status, may be susceptible to this disease. After recovering from cancer, Keen decided to share her experience with the Pride team to encourage the women to get tested.
“The chances [of getting breast cancer] are one of eight, so the chances are good that it’s not gonna happen. But don’t think you can’t be that one,” she told the team, as reported by Sports Illustrated.
Defender Toni Pressley, who had been feeling soreness in her breast for months, needed to hear this from Keen. She subsequently got tested and discovered that she had breast cancer. Though she continued to play soccer for the team, she didn’t share what she was going through with her teammates right away.
“It was pretty hard after games because I was unsure when I would be back or if I would play soccer again,” she said to Sports Illustrated.
In August 2019, Pressley received treatment at the Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center and finally revealed to her teammates what she had been going through.
“On behalf of everyone at the Club, I would like to extend our unconditional support to Toni, her family and the members of our Orlando Pride family throughout the entire treatment process,” Pride General Manager Erik Ustruck said in a statement.
Following a double mastectomy and a reconstructive surgery, Pressley was declared cancer-free. She began training again and closed out the 2019 season with a triumphant moment as a sub in the Pride’s last game, eagerly looking forward to the 2020 season.
Unfortunately for Pressley, her long-awaited return as a regular in the NWSL would be extended due to the pandemic. Despite the Pride’s initial plans to join the Challenge Cup NWSL bubble in Utah during the summer, positive tests on the team prevented that from becoming a reality.
“I think, in general, we’re all a lot stronger than we think we are and we can overcome almost anything,” Pressley said in reference to the difficulties the team faced with withdrawing from the Challenge Cup. “I’ve certainly learned that with going through having breast cancer, that I don’t think we’re given anything we can’t handle.”
Pressley is using her time off of the field to promote awareness for getting tested for breast cancer, especially during the pandemic when more women are putting off getting mammograms, and by partnering with Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation.
“I think it is important for me for people to know that nobody is immune to everything, and it can happen to anyone,” Pressley told Outsports, echoing what Keen had told her before her cancer battle. “It can happen to athletes, young people, healthy people. That’s the message I want to get across.”
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