Bertie grad suffers from Hodgin’s Lymphoma

Published 1:11 pm Saturday, June 13, 2009

CHAPEL HILL – Bertie High School graduate and University of North Carolina standout Jessica Breland has been diagnosed with Hodgin’s Lymphoma.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Breland family released information about her illness and treatment Tuesday.

Breland, a 2006 graduate of Bertie, is undergoing treatment at UNC Hospitals. The treatment, which is under the supervision of the UNC Hospitals oncology team, consists of chemotherapy that is expected to continue into the fall.

“Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a very curable form of cancer,” Dr. Mario Ciocca of UNC Sports Medicine said. “Factoring in Jessica’s age and her overall good health and athleticism, we anticipate a positive response to her treatment. Her condition will be monitored closely here in Chapel Hill and she will continue to be reassessed throughout the summer.”

Breland said through the release that she has been positive and is looking forward to getting back on the basketball court.

“The last few weeks have been a really emotional time for me, but I’ve got a very positive attitude about my treatment and I’m looking forward to getting healthy and getting back to playing basketball as soon as possible,” Breland said.

She also indicated she was continuing to keep up with her school work and other activities.

“I’ve been keeping my normal schedule, going to class, helping out with camp, and I’m not going to let this get me down,” she said. “I’ve got lots of love and support from my family, my friends, my teammates and my coaches and I know I’ll be back and better than ever soon.”

Bertie High School Girl’s Basketball Coach Alice Lyons said she was in constant contact with Breland and stressed that her former player was in good spirits and was looking forward to playing again.

“She’s very positive,” Lyons said. “I thank God that it is curable. She is going through the process right now and is looking forward to coming back strong.”

Lyons said Breland is hoping to be on the floor this fall with the Carolina women’s basketball team but the possibility exists for her to be red-shirted and play the following year if that’s necessary.

“They want to make sure the chemotherapy is working,” Lyons said. “She wants to play so she can go on to the pros after this year. I told her that’s the way to think.”

For her part, UNC Women’s Basketball Coach Sylvia Hatchell said her focus and the team’s was in getting Breland better.

“Obviously, this news came as a shock to everyone, but Jessica is a fighter and I know that she will attack this with the same attitude and energy she brings to the basketball court,” head coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “Our focus is 100 percent on helping Jessica to get better. The entire Carolina Basketball family is with Jessica, and we will continue to provide her with our full love and support throughout her battle.”