Former WNBA star and current University of South Carolina women's assistant basketball coach Nikki McCray has been called a fighter and a competitor throughout her career.
As a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a two-time SEC Player of the Year, McCray's journey has taken her all over the world allowing her to have the opportunity to play against some of the world's best women's basketball players. Now, her journey has her on a different path.
Just under a year ago, McCray was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, the former Lady Volunteer has undergone treatment for the disease. Although it hasn't been easy, McCray believes the journey has been worthwhile.
"This has truly been an amazing journey and I've had unbelievable support," McCray said. "Again, I have to start obviously with my family, obviously with our staff, our team, and our community... it's just been unbelievable."
Through her treatments, McCray has met a number of different people going through the same treatment that she has helped and, in turn, have helped her all while shifting her perspective on how she sees things.
"I've had to put things in perspective," McCray said, "You know, I just live now. Not saying that I wasn't living before but I don't take any day for granted. I don't take my son for granted, I don't take my husband for granted, my job... I mean I'm so blessed."
McCray admits getting to this point has been difficult at times especially when parts of the process can be particularly draining.
"The radiation has been really hard," McCray said. "You know, once I did chemotherapy and the surgery, I got over that hurdle. But radiation... When you do radiation you're there every single day for those 20 minutes. And it's just a constant reminder of this is what you're going through."
McCray's experience has allowed her to cross paths with a lot of people that could easily motivate her to press forward, but one of the key motivating figures in her life is her son, Thomas.
"He is doing great," McCray said. "I come through the door and I'm Mommy. He looks at me and I know everything is going to be okay because this is what I'm fighting for."
In some cases, cancer treatments may cause patients to lose blood making blood transfusions necessary. For some, the thought of giving blood seems scary, but McCray says doing so could be very beneficial.
"It's an opportunity, number one, to change or save someone's life," she said. "And, you know, when you're in a position to do that, why not? And giving blood is an opportunity to save someone's life and that's what you do it for."
McCray says that she is almost at the end of her treatments as her final radiation treatment takes place on Thursday.