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BYU basketball teams helping former player with cancer complete bucket list

By Ashley Kewish  |  Posted Jan 24th, 2017 @ 10:44pm


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LEHI — At the Day house in Lehi, playing basketball with the kids is pretty much a daily activity. That's not too surprising considering the kids' mom, Melanie Pearson Day, played college ball at Brigham Young University.

The court may look different now, the stakes not so high, but her opponent is tougher than ever.

"My diagnosis was about two to five years to live," Day said.

Day has stage four terminal breast cancer. The news moved her to create a blog she calls "Five years to live." She said the writing has been therapeutic, and putting together her bucket list was one of the first things she did.

"The No. 1 item is to attend the North Carolina and Duke men's basketball game," she said. "When I put that, it was a joke because no one gets to go to that game."

A joke. However, the BYU men's and women's basketball teams found out about it and didn't laugh; they wanted to make it a reality. One of the coaches reached out to Duke and got a response.

At a recent BYU home game, coaches invited Day into the locker room after the game.

"We read your letter, we cried," said Coach Jeff Judkins, reading aloud Duke's response. "It's no problem whatsoever. We will do this for her."

For a woman who has received a lot of bad news lately, receiving good news from her former coach meant everything.

"Mel, we're going to send you to the Duke, North Carolina game," Judkins said.

The locker room erupted in applause.

The BYU men's basketball players donated money for plane tickets for Day and her husband. The BYU coaches donated money to cover the hotel while they're in North Carolina. The BYU women's players donated spending cash to cover any other costs.

"I was really impressed that the players, colleges students, would give of their own money," Day said, wiping away tears.

While she's not sure who will win the Feb. 9 game, Day is hoping it's Duke.

Day knows she'll ultimately lose to cancer but said she won't forget the kindness shown to her. For the rest of her days, she plans to stick to a simple game plan: "to appreciate every day and live life to the fullest."

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Ashley Kewish
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