Cleveland State basketball player honored for strength while fighting lymphoma

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Brandee Kelly is more than a college athlete. She's a fighter, she's brave and she's determined.

Kelly is a Cleveland State University basketball player, who was diagnosed with lymphoma last year, after complaining about severe back pains. She was taken to the Cleveland Clinic, where oncologist Brad Pohlman diagnosed her.

"Because it's a blood cancer in Brandee, it was in her bone marrow and moved to many different area in her bone marrow. It can be a slow-growing cancer or a fast-growing cancer in her. It was fast growing cancer that require intense chemotherapy," Pohlman said.

"My goodness, I broke down I asked him 'Was I going die?' That is the first question I asked him. Then he told me about the meds, the hair loss, the weakness, the nausea," Kelly said.

Kelly had six chemotherapy treatments in a span of four months and after her third treatment, she wanted to quit, but her support group and her determination wouldn't allow her.

"My family, my coaches, everyone had faith in me. I didn't want to let no one down. I had to get back out there. I had to prove it to myself that I could come back," Kelly said.

While completing her chemo treatments, Kelly took all of her finals and passed. Her cancer is now in remission.

"Brandee is a varsity athlete. She was valedictorian of her high school. You don't become valedictorian, a top-notch athlete just by accident. You work to get there. I think the same attitude that she had toward her athletics, that same drive, got her through chemo,"  Pohlman said.

"I think she's playing harder this year than she did last year. I think she has a new lease on life, and she understand how precious it is," said women's had coach Kate Peterson Abiad.

"I fought this. I beat it so I just live everyday to the fullest," Kelly said.

Kelly will be given the courage award, presented by Cleveland Clinic Sports Health, at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards on Thursday.

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