The UT-Tyler women's basketball team is the top seed in this weekends American Southwest Conference tournament. For freshman Micaela Gonzalez, facing championship pressure is child's play. She's already shot down cancer.
"I remember it perfectly, I was walking through the hallway had an itch and I was like wait, there is a bump here," Gonzalez said. "I was like I don't think that is suppose to be there."
That bump proved to be Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Micaela had to go through six months of chemotherapy and radiation during her sophomore year at McKinney Boyd high school. It's a challenge though, she's come to appreciate.
"There were times you know I would be laying sick in bed and I would be like why me," Gonzalez asked herself. "I wouldn't change it for the world. It taught me so much, brought me a million times closer to my family."
Being away from the game of basketball was one of the hardest things for Gonzalez to deal with. Pushing towards a college career however kept the McKinney native going.
"Having to sit out really just sparked my love for the game, " Micaela said. "Having it taken away made me want to come back even better and stronger than before." Teammate and fellow freshman Makenzi May added, " Looking at Micaela and the way she plays you would never be able to tell that anything was wrong with her. Its like she overcame that so good"
She may not score that many points, or play the most minutes, but overcoming cancer has made Micaela an instant leader, even as a freshman. "She's overcome so much and I'm so proud of her, and I actually look up to her for that, even being a senior," Breann McMillan said. "Everything she has been through, we know that we can get through anything together so she is a very important piece to this puzzle."
And the piece is bigger than you might think. "I cant usually hear people when I'm on the court, but I can always pick her voice out of everyone, her clap, I mean its just very distinctive," May said. Gonzalez added, "I'm going to cheer them on, and just play my role. I can wait for my turn, I don't have a problem with that. I love where I'm at now, but I don't forget where I was."