Joanne Glasser finished her breast cancer treatment just in time to celebrate in the women’s basketball team’s victory over Drake and take pride in the funds the team raised for the very illness she had just defeated.
“I told coach [Paula] Buscher I wasn’t going to be redshirted this year,” the university president said. “I was going to be coachable myself and go for my treatments and not miss a day.”
Glasser finished her 35 radiation treatments last Friday, and she was able to share in the excitement of the Braves’ double-overtime victory.
“When life knocks you down and you get blown around, you just readjust your sails,” she said.
Saturday’s win marked the annual “Pink Zone” game, in which the Braves sported pink uniforms and raised money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.
“Cancer is a club that nobody ever really chooses to join, but sometimes we all just get drafted and here I am, I was drafted this year. I guess I am a lifetime member,” she said.
She said her schedule and workload didn’t change too much while she was sick, but now she will be able to travel more and by plane.
“I feel really blessed that I’m able to keep up my energy, and I attribute that to my positive energy … and not really underestimating the power of a lot of prayers from a lot of people not just from this campus, but all over Peoria and all over the country,” she said.
She said she is proud to be the “poster woman” for breast cancer on campus, and she would like to relay the importance of early detection and yearly mammograms to all women.
“I just had to maintain focus and perseverance that I was going to get healthy again, that it was not going to determine who I was, it was not going to take over my life … and hopefully inspire others to not give up,” she said.
Glasser will participate in the Komen Race for the Cure in the spring.
“I will be walking probably not running and leading the charge for breast cancer awareness and much needed dollars to find a cure for this dreaded disease,” she said.
An alumnus in North Carolina started a “Team Glasser” to get people involved in the race, and Glasser said people around the country will create other teams in her name.
“I just couldn’t be more proud to know that my struggle and my personal journey helped save lives,” she said. “I know there was a reason and a purpose that I got sick. When people say, ‘why me?’ I know why me.”
To detect breast cancer early, women 40 years or older should get annual mammograms, and all women over 20 years old should get clinical breast exams every three years, according to the American Cancer Society.
Women should also learn how to perform breast self-exams, and report anything that feels irregular to their doctors.
“I think when people say, ‘how do you feel?,’ ‘are you happy?,’ ‘do you feel better?,’ I feel really lucky and really blessed that I was one of the fortunate ones,” she said.