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'I wish I had her strength': Gonzaga tennis player Katie Day tackles latest challenge, cancer

Day was diagnosed with a type of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in early January.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The word cancer shocks anyone. 

But hearing that word at the age of 22 and as a high level Division I athlete?

Well, that seems earth shattering. 

Unless your Gonzaga tennis player Katie Day, who is taking her latest competition in stride.

"It's like I'm playing a tennis match," quipped Katie, reflecting on all the people cheering her on.

The signs popped up in October. 

Something was wrong with the Portland native, but never in a million years did she think it had anything to do with cancer.

"We were doing some fitness workout and I literally thought I was going to pass out. I was like, 'I don't know what's going on.' My coaches came over to me and were like, 'Okay, stop. We're going to have you take a break from tennis.' I thought it was something anxiety related," said the Gonzaga senior. "A lot of the doctors I went to in Spokane thought it was anxiety related."

But it wasn't. 

A few months later and after a few more warning signs, Katie got the call that she had a type of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

Although Katie's prognosis is good, it's understandable her initial reaction was, "Am I going to die? I was like freaking out."

And her mom's reaction was, how?

"What 22 year-old young, healthy girl has cancer?," her mother said.

But the trio have forged ahead, with the help of that school up north.

"The Gonzaga community and her friends and the support," began Katie's dad, Shaun. 

"That family, I tell ya," interjected mom Molly, while trying to hold back tears. 

"It is a family. Gonzaga is sending so many good vibes our way and prayers and it's been fantastic," added Shaun.

"I'm just so fortunate to have a support system up there because like I said before, I wouldn't know what to do if I didn't have anyone there to support me," said Katie of GU.

One of the most public gestures of support came from the women's basketball team. 

Katie had no idea it was coming.

"I saw a tweet. They tagged me in a tweet. I was like, 'Oh my gosh.' I had no idea they were doing anything like that. My friends were texting me like, They're wearing green for you at the game, this is so cool.' I was like, 'I literally had no idea they were going to do that.' I was just so appreciative of it, that they would want to do something like that."

Katie has been an athlete pretty much since she can remember. Her dad thinks that will help fuel her in her next big match.

"The way I look at it is is that the grind she put in as an athlete since she was like five years old, playing tennis, has prepared her to power through this," said Shaun. "She's going to power through just like she has anything else."

"I wish I had her strength. I tell her everyday. Katie, don't I? I wish I was as strong as you?  said Katie Day's mom, Molly, leaning back and looking at her daughter as Katie chuckled. "Yeah, she's so strong."

Katie's spirit immediately strikes you when you meet her, so I'd have to say that I agree.

"I just kind of look at the bright side of things because there's no point of me feeling negative about all this because that's just going to make it harder," said Katie. "I just try to stay positive through the whole thing and make light of it because it makes the process easier."

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