Team pushes coach through breast cancer battle

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DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - Lori Kerans was a basketball coach for 32 years at Millikin University.

During her time spent coaching, Kerans developed an ever-lasting bond with her team — and it's her team that got her through the most difficult part of her life. 

In October of 1997, she competed for life. At just 34 years old, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

But she didn't like that stop her from living her life. Every day, Kerans continued to work at the university. 

"Brushing my teeth, getting dressed, coming to campus (and) being surrounded my basketball team was an important part of my recovery," Kerans says. 

According to Kerans, having teammates by her side while facing this obstacle meant all the difference. 

"Your teammates when you're battling cancer are your physicians, your nurses, your medical team and your home team and your closest friends," Kerans said.

After a long year of  surgeries and chemotherapy, Kerans was deemed cancer free. 

"Cancer affects everyone differently and everyone's got a story about how they did it," Kerans said.

But her story didn't end there. In October of 2007, Kerans was diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time. 

"The second time was easier than the first because I knew how successful we had been the first time," Kerans says. "I didn't want to endure that year again but I knew we could it."

Her second round of breast cancer made Kerans consider how she could get the whole community involved. Kerans helped bring "Real Men Wear Pink" to local football. 

"The message I wanted to give in doing "Real Men Wear Pink" is love the people in your life enough to say I love you, I care about you, I want you to take some time to take care of yourself," Kerans said. "You being healthy is going to see me walk across the stage at graduation."

Kerans kept a brave face through it all and in the end, she beat cancer not once, but twice. 

"I chose to look at it as an opportunity to defeat it again (and) to be a beacon of hope to people around me," Kerans. 

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