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Duquesne University
A cautionary tale brings star home

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

By Paul Zeise, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Last year at this time, Edna Campbell was a seemingly healthy 33-year old professional basketball player in the middle of her season in the Italian women's league.

Edna Campbell takes her message to the fans at Palumbo Center last night. (Annie O'Neill, Post-Gazette)

Then she took an elbow to the breast during one of her games and subsequently discovered she had a lump there. After first dismissing the lump as merely a bruise, she finally flew home for medical tests.

That is when Campbell learned she had breast cancer and needed a lumpectomy and six months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She would also have to sit out the WNBA season -- the first time in her career she missed playing basketball for an extended period.

Campbell, a former Allderdice High School standout and a member of the WNBA's Sacramento Monarchs, was determined to win the battle against cancer. She returned to play in the final game of the season for the Monarchs in August.

Last night, Campbell returned to Pittsburgh to share her story and deliver a message to the crowd of 1,606 at the Palumbo Center for a women's basketball game between Duquesne and No. 12 Vanderbilt.

"Cancer doesn't discriminate against anyone," she said during a brief speech and presentation at halftime. "You may think you are not at risk but you are, no matter how old you are. That's why it is important to be in touch with your body, do monthly self-examinations and pay attention to the signs. It is a disease that can be beaten if you catch it soon enough."

Her appearance was in conjunction with a promotion by the "Coaches vs. Cancer" organization, which raises money to fight the disease. One dollar from every ticket sold last night was donated to the local chapter of the American Cancer Society.

As for her personal battle, Campbell said she has recently received a clean bill of health and will return to the Monarchs this year. In the meantime, she will continue to make appearances to raise cancer awareness.

"[Having the disease] is a part of my life now and it always will be," she said. "But I have put it behind me and have moved forward. I want to do as much as I can to let people know that they need to be on guard because this disease can sneak up on you like it snuck up on me."

Paul Zeise can be reached at pzeise@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1720.

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