SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Tuesday morning marked the first time we have heard from Tiana Mangakahia since she announced her cancer diagnosis almost two months ago.
Mangakahia is halfway through her eight scheduled chemotherapy treatments. She says her focus is staying positive and beating her cancer.
As a standout on the court, the SU guard is used to tough battles, but finding out from her doctor she had breast cancer is a fight Mangakahia never expected.
“I felt very shocked, it was hard to comprehend, I was emotional. And then I called Coach Q,” she says.
SU Head Women’s Basketball Coach Quentin Hillsman, Coach Q, adds, “The hard part about the situation is you recruit a kid and you tell their parents, have them come here and we’re going to take care of them, I’m going to look out for them and I’ll make sure nothing is going to happen to them and this situation happens and you can’t control this.”
What Mangakahia says she can control is staying positive, despite the fatigue that comes with difficult chemo treatments.
Despite being nearly a world away from home, the Australian says the same fans that cheer her on the court are the same ones helping her take on this fight in Syracuse.
“People sending me cards and little letters and it’s been really amazing,” Mangakahia explains.
She adds that being so public about fighting cancer is also about helping others too.
“I get messages from other people saying they’ve been through it or they know somebody going through it and really just show them the strength that you can have going through it instead of just looking at the downside,” she says.
Mangakahia’s plan right now is to sit out this season but be on campus, taking classes, being around her teammates at practices and games and then be ready to rejoin them for the ’20-’21 season.
“I think about it a lot actually, when it’s all over and it makes me really happy,” she says.
You can watch Mangakahia and Hillsman speak below.