Cougars to hold benefit softball game for Stubbs
Former Western Nebraska Community College Cougar softball player Jocelyn Stubbs was living life day-to-day and never thought about having to deal with cancer. That was until she went into the doctor's office for a nagging cough.
What transpired from that doctor's visit turned out to be something that opened her eyes. Stubbs was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma Nodular-Sclerosis last December.
Stubbs, who played for the Cougars in 2011 and 2012, is currently undergoing 12 treatments of chemo. Because of what Stubbs is going through, WNCC will hold a benefit game on April 26 where all proceeds of the game from concessions and gate will go to help defry medical costs. The Cougars will take on Garden City Community College that day.
Also, the specially-made autographed jerseys which the team will wear that day will be auctioned off with bidding starting Friday, April 18 and running through gameday at 10 a.m. Individuals can bid on the jerseys at the Facebook page "Jocelyn Stubbs Cancer Awareness Day."
For Stubbs, it was an eye-opener having to deal with cancer at such a young age. She said at first she was scared.
"I never thought something like this would happen to me," Stubbs said. "I was always relatively healthy growing up, and I was active in sports all my life. When my doctor first told me there is a possibility that I have cancer, I was in shock. When he showed me my CT of how big my tumor in my chest was, I was speechless. I couldn't believe that I could have a tumor that big growing inside me and not know it.
"My doctor told me that Hodgkin's Lymphoma patients are categorized in two groups: type A are the ones who experience symptoms (night sweats, weight loss, fatigue, etc.), and type B are those who don't experience any symptoms. I was type B. I had no symptoms whatsoever."
Stubbs is on a treatment plan of six chemo cycles in which two treatments make one cycle. She has completed four cycles of ABVD chemo (equal to eight treatments).
WNCC softball coach Maria Winn-Ratliff said having a benefit game serves to purposes. Not only will it help Stubbs, but it will also bring awareness of cancer that it can strike anyone at any time.
"I don't think sometimes we realize how close to home it [cancer] can hit," Winn-Ratliff said. "I know a lot of college kids believe they are invincible, but cancer can happen to anyone. I know it has made me realize to be more aware of my actions and behaviors."
Winn-Ratliff said that game will be special as both teams will be wearing uniforms to recognize the type of cancer that Stubbs has.
"Both teams will be wearing uniforms that will represent the color of Jocelyn's cancer, Hodgkin's Lymphoma," she said. "We will be auctioning off our jerseys that were worn in the game, and they will be autographed by that player. Jocelyn will be present at the game, and all proceeds from the auction, concessions, and gate will be given to Jocelyn and her family."
This will be the second benefit for Stubbs. Her Cougar teammate Bree Bitton held a benefit in Utah that raised more than $1,000.
Stubbs is excited to come back to Scottsbluff for the event.
"I am so blessed to have so much support," she said. "Bree Bitton is one of my best friends, and she put on a fundraiser for me in February. She had a huge raffle and offered a workout class for people to participate in. It meant a lot to me that she put all that together. It means a lot that Coach Winn would do a game for me as well. It helps me to know that I have people out there who really care for me. I'm very excited to come out to the game and support the Cougars on April 26."
Stubbs' bravery in dealing with cancer while she is in her early 20s is remarkable and Stubbs is hoping to bring awareness to cancer because, like she said, her cancer came as a total surprise.
"We discovered I had cancer completely by accident," she said. "In November, I went in to the clinic for a chronic cough that would not go away. After some X-rays of my chest, a huge softball-size mass was discovered. I then had a series of CT and PET scans that revealed that I had three tumors growing inside me - one on each side of my neck and one that surrounded my heart. I had two biopsy surgeries to confirm my diagnoses of Lymphoma and one surgery to place my power port in my chest."
Stubbs said the tumor in her chest measured 9.5x5.5 centimeters before she started treatments.
"At the halfway mark of my chemo, I had another CT which showed my tumor shrunk down to 4.5x2.5 centimeters," she said. "So, I am responding very well. My last treatment is scheduled for May 22. As long as everything goes as planned, I should be done on May 22."
Stubbs said it hasn't been easy going through chemo treatments. However, she tries to maintain a positive attitude.
"My hair continually falls out every day, and I think any girl would struggle with losing her hair. I'm no exception," she said. "I used to have very long, healthy hair, and now I'm almost bald. Some days it's hard to look in the mirror and accept that this is my reality. It kind of seems silly that something so simple could mean so much, but I know it will grow back. Being bald isn't a forever thing. It's just a 'for now' thing. So for now, I wear a lot of hats."
Stubbs the cancer awareness day in Scottsbluff later this month really does make more people become aware of cancer.
"I think it's important that people are aware of things like Hodgkin's Lymphoma. This is a disease that hits people completely at random," she said. "There is no rhyme or reason to why people get this. That is why going to your doctor for yearly check-ups are so important. I never went to the doctor before I was diagnosed, but now I see how important it really is."
Stubbs had an outstanding softball career at WNCC, leading the team to two Region IX titles and two national tournament appearances. She was a two-time first-team all-region catcher and was named the Freshman of the Year in 2011. She finished her two-year career hitting .340. She ranks 11th on the school's all-time chart in career doubles with 27, is fourth in home runs with 23, and is seventh in runs batted in with 106. She scored 91 runs.
Stubbs is excited to return to the field where she has so many fond memories playing on.
"I am so excited to see everyone when I come out," Stubbs said. "Some of my old teammates have told me they are going to be there, and I can't wait to see them. I haven't seen most of them in years, so it will be a great little reunion.
"It will also be fun to watch a game, too, and experiencing a game from the bleachers will be interesting. I love Volunteer Field. I have so many wonderful and crazy memories from my two years of being a Cougar, so I'm excited to just come and be a part of it all again even if it is only for a day."
Winn-Ratliff said it will be a special day as her players are forever a part of Cougar softball.
"I think it is very special for us to do something like this," she said. "We want to recognize Jocelyn and let her know we are fighting with her and know she can win this battle. As I tell them, once a Cougar always a Cougar."
Check out the Jocelyn Stubbs Cancer Awareness Day Facebook page for updates on the benefit game as well as the jersey auction. Also, anyone who wants to contribute to the benefit may contact Winn-Ratliff at email@example.com.
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