First it was her aunt, Angela Kirk, who died in December 2010. That was why the then-senior helped Pleasant Grove High School raise $1,000 for Swing For Life last year. She didn't know exactly how to feel through her own ordeal, but on Saturday, she knew awareness could help people like her and her aunt.
"It was weird for me to say, 'I'm a survivor,' " she said. "It feels like I'm not quite there, but I guess I am."
Being a survivor implies the life-threatening challenge is over, that normalcy can begin. But even after cancer, life isn't "normal" anymore.
It's a big reason why Kathy Howa, softball coach at Rowland Hall, has kept the Swing For Life fundraiser going 10 years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The combined efforts of softball, volleyball and other sports teams across the country have raised more than $800,000, which has gone directly to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation and cancer research. It's a weekend for celebration of life, with teams wearing pink socks, pink ribbons and pink jerseys. Sports is the perfect forum for paying tribute to the fighting spirit of those who have been pitted against cancer.
But even surviving can still be fight. Kennedy didn't need chemotherapy, and her early detection helped her escape some of the more gripping horrors of the disease. But she still had to withdraw from school at Utah Valley University, and she had to take a step back from coaching at Pleasant Grove.
However, her sisters on the softball field many of whom she played with and helped raise money at Swing For Life last season never left her. The entire roster wore pink shirts with No. 20, Kennedy's old number, on the back. This year, they've raised $3,000 for the fundraiser.