Pink Zone game to promote cancer awareness

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 | 9:35 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A reminder of her mother's breast cancer diagnosis is never far away.

Wednesday's game

Kansas State (20-3, 7-3 in the Big 12) at Missouri (11-12, 2-8 in the Big 12)

When: 6:30 p.m.

Where: Mizzou Arena

Radio: KFRU/1400 AM

On Amanda Hanneman's left wrist is a small tattoo of the pink ribbon that has become the symbol of breast cancer awareness.

Hanneman, a junior on the Missouri women's basketball team, was a freshman on Thanksgiving break when she found out her mom, Betsy Hanneman, would need surgery to remove the cancer.

“It was hard to deal with at first because I’m the worrier of the family," Hanneman said. "They didn’t really tell me everything that was going on, but they gave me the gist of it."

Hanneman said it was difficult to continue to focus on classes and basketball while her mom was recovering at home in Blue Springs but, more than a year later, with her mother officially free of cancer, Hanneman and her sister celebrated with matching tattoos.

Wednesday the Tigers will play in the annual Pink Zone game, which is aimed at raising awareness for breast cancer. Missouri (11-12, 2-8 in the Big 12) will host No. 16 Kansas State (20-3, 7-3 in the Big 12) at 6:30 p.m. at Mizzou Arena.

The Pink Zone event, which takes places at college campuses around the nation, is a promotion of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. The first 500 fans to enter Mizzou Arena will receive a free t-shirt and anyone who wears pink to the game will get a discounted $2 admission. The money raised from the game will go to the Mid-Missouri Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Kay Yow Foundation.

Missouri coach Cindy Stein was friends with Yow, the former North Carolina State women's basketball coach, who died in January after a battling breast cancer off and on for years.

“It’s a women’s issue more than anything," Stein said. "I think that it’s the largest health concern pretty much for women. It touches so many people. My mother is a breast cancer survivor (and) my aunt. It’s just one of those things that touches everybody.”

Hanneman said that the game can provide people with an important reminder.

“I think it’s just the fact that people can survive, that people out there can fight it and that people are out there to help," she said.

Hanneman said participating in Walk for the Cure each year with a group of family and friends who called themselves "Team Betsy" also helps keep things in perspective.

“It just sets out a good example, like, 'You think your life’s bad but what about this person who is so positive but they had breast cancer and almost died,'" she said. "It sends out a good message, and it does send out, 'Go get checked,' because it could happen to you no matter what."

Hanneman could have started to think her life was bad this summer when she had to have surgery on both feet just a few months apart for the same injury. It turns out, she had a stress fracture in both feet that never healed that resulted in the dead bone that had to be removed.

“I’m still recovering. I just got out of treatment a month ago," said Hanneman, who estimated that she is about 80-percent healthy right now.

The injuries have led to less playing time for Hanneman, a career 42 percent 3-point shooter entering this season, but any time she spends on the court Wednesday night will be special, she said.

“When you start putting on the pink shoelaces, that’s the first thing that comes to my mind is my mom," Hanneman said, referring to the team's attire during Pink Zone games. "These games are pretty big and she’s coming Wednesday, so it’ll be a good one to play for her.”

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