CINCINNATI (AP) Lauren Hill practices only a few days a week now. It’s unlikely she’ll play in another basketball game, although she’s not ruling out the possibility that she just might feel up to it one day and shoot one of her left-handed layups.
Her cancerous brain tumor makes every day unpredictable. And whatever happens, she’s accepted it.
The Mount St. Joseph freshman isn’t as strong as she was two weeks ago, when she took the basketball court in the national spotlight. She made a pair of layups during a Division III basketball game in front of more than 10,000 fans who dabbed their eyes as the ball went through the net.
”The game was two weeks ago. It seems like it was just yesterday,” she said on Tuesday in her school’s gymnasium, with the final score – Mount St. Joseph 66, Hiram 55 – displayed on the scoreboard (the game was held at Xavier’s arena).
A lot has happened in the last two weeks.
The school has received calls from people around the world who are touched by the 19-year-old’s courage and inspiration. A Layup4Lauren challenge raised money for research into the type of cancer that will shorten her life.
Hill hopes that research will lead to treatments that give others a better chance of beating the odds.
Xavier University donated $58,776 on Tuesday, money raised from tickets and merchandise as the school offered its arena for the game. The NCAA allowed the schools to move the game up by two weeks because of Hill’s condition.
So far, more than $324,000 has been donated for cancer research and treatment – far more than Hill had imagined.
”That’s a lot,” Hill said. ”I don’t even have a reaction. I’m still in shock. It’s kind of like walking through a dream. I mean, it’s a good dream.”
As the inoperable tumor squeezes her strength and energy, Hill squeezes back, holding to life as tightly as she can. The tumor leaves her right side weak at times and makes her dizzy. She sleeps a lot and has to use a wheelchair sometimes.
”Every day or every hour can be different,” said Lisa Hill, her mom. ”Toward the latter part of the day, you’ll see her more in her wheelchair because her legs are weaker so she has a hard time moving.”
Lisa Hill said her daughter’s spirits fluctuate with her physical struggles.
”If her right side isn’t working, she gets very frustrated just because her body isn’t cooperating,” she said. ”But for the most part, she’s Lauren.”
Hill had to start shooting with her left hand – her non-dominant one – because the tumor affects the right side of her body more significantly. She shows up for practice several times a week to be with her teammates and will make a few shots if she feels up to it.
Asked if it’s realistic to think she could play in another game, Lisa Hill said, ”I don’t know. I would probably say it’s maybe not realistic, but you never know on the day. So if she’s got really high spirits and her body’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing, who knows?”
Hill doesn’t know what to expect, either.
”I’m just worried about spending time with my family right now and trying to get to Thanksgiving,” she said. ”You know, just living in the moment.”
Coach Dan Benjamin and Hill’s teammates are taking up the cause as her energy wanes.
”Watching her go through her journey has been very tough, knowing she’s getting weaker at times, knowing she needs us even more now,” Benjamin said. ”She’s not going to be able to get out as much as she has done in the past, so now I will have to become her voice and her teammates will have to become her voice as well.”
Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay
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