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Tennis Impacts Life of League Player

January 22, 2007 01:29 PM

Two words that no woman ever wants to hear are: breast cancer.   Three words that never go together are breast cancer and tennis.  That is, until now.

All too frequently, women around the world are diagnosed with breast cancer.  It is the most common form of cancer in American women and there is no simple cure or clear answer of what causes this disease.  There are, however, over 2 million breast cancer survivors in the United States whose stories of survival are both inspiring and courageous.  Dina Glover was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2006 and is one of these courageous people.

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On Jan. 12-14, USTA Florida held the BMW Combo Doubles Section Championships in Daytona Beach to cap off the 2006 league season.  Dina played every match throughout the weekend and her team was victorious at the end of the tournament.  The most impressive part wasn’t that the team won, it’s that  Dina underwent a radiation treatment at 7 a.m. before her first tennis match on Friday.  In fact, Dina has been going through agressive radiation treatment every morning for the past month.  Yet, she still gets out on the court, runs for every ball and cheers for her teammates as if nothing was wrong.  Talk about inspiring. 

People say that when it rains it pours, and sometimes it does just that.  A few years ago, Dina, her husband and three children moved to Safety Harbor.  She started playing tennis at Countryside Country Club in Clearwater because tennis is something she always wanted to do.  Her children were all in school and now she had the time to play.  Everything seemed great.

That is until things changed drastically, as life tends to do.  Last year, after eighteen years of marriage, Dina’s husband left her and their three children.  Two months later in May, Dina was diagnosed with breast cancer.  In June she had surgery, in August she started chemotherapy and by Christmas, she began radiation.

“When I found out I had breast cancer it was pure devastation and disbelief,” she said.  “I was very healthy and when I first found the lump myself and went to the doctor, the mammogram didn’t show anything.  But then I decided to get it checked again, and this time, it was breast cancer.”

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Throughout this whole process, Dina has continued to stay active and play tennis.  In October, while Dina was going through chemo, she played in the women’s open division at Countryside Country Club where she remained reigning club champion.  Just recently, her women’s combo team from St.Pete/Clearwater beat eleven other teams in their division to win the 2006 BMW Combo Doubles Section Championships.

For those who understand the mental and physical demands of tennis, Dina’s situation is one we can appreciate.  Most individuals struggling with cancer are too weak and emotionally drained to play any sport.  Dina has been blessed with the ability and deep determination to push through and keep playing tennis.  She doesn’t take that for granted.
 
“Tennis is an outlet and release for me.  My teammates are awesome and a huge support,” she said.  “I had friends walk for me in the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk in Tampa this past year and we raised around $8,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  Everyone has really stepped up to the plate and I will be forever grateful.”

There is no denying that Dina, like so many others, have had their share of tears and asked the question, “Why me?” 

“What keeps me motivated are my kids,” she said.  “Getting up every morning and knowing that my kids are here for me and I am here for them is what motivates me.”

“My family and friends have really helped me through this.  When I play tennis, my teammates never focus on my cancer; we all just have a good time.  Tennis is my passion.  I love it!” she said.
 
Being diagnosed with breast cancer does not define a person.  It shouldn’t stop you from doing what you love.  No matter how difficult it is, it’s imperative to surround yourself with people who care and to maintain a positive attitude about life.

The next time you're down 5-0 in a set, or are struggling to get your serve in, dig deep like Dina and don’t give up the fight.  Learn from her strength, appreciate those close to you and most of all, enjoy the sport of tennis; for its benefits are far greater than we all realize!

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