How my sister showed me what it meant to be a Champion...and then became a Hero
My sister Stacey Bainbridge was born seven years before I was, so needless to say, while we were growing up there wasn't much that we had in common; except for our love of sports. She was gifted with height and athletic ability, all while I was lucky enough to just make the roster on my high school sports teams...I was a much better fan! I was, however, able to live my sports life vicariously through Stacey as she was an amazing basketball and volleyball player, ranked throughout high school as one of the best in the Cleveland area. I was always a football and basketball fan, but I learned to appreciate sports like volleyball by going to watch Stacey in high school and college. Her talent to me was unprecedented. Watching her at John Carroll University, I realized what she possessed that separates her as an athlete; her indomitable mindset. She had such a competitive attitude, that in her mind nobody could beat her team, and they usually didn't, as they went to the Final Four for the first time in school history and she became the an All-American at John Carroll.
After college, Stacey settled down and began a family which includes her husband, and two sons. Stacey and I have become great friends since we have gotten older. In 2007, at the age of 34, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I never knew what to think about the situation when she told me. Of course I was upset, but it never crossed my mind that she wouldn't beat it. I knew her, and I knew that she would fight with every ounce of her, and not let this opponent get the best of her, but what made me so confident wasn't what I was thinking, it was her demeanor and how she didn't seem to give this challenge even the benefit of the doubt; she already had this won. Her bravery was what kept my family together during the period of treatment. Stacey had a mastectomy and was going through chemo treatments when she gathered up the troops and became the captain of the breast cancer awareness 5k walk/run in downtown Cleveland. Although her body was weak, her competitive spirit was what propelled her to finish the race. That same spirit was what kept her going to beat breast cancer. This is the 5 year anniversary of the remission of her cancer, and I believe that there is no better way to honor that than to be recognized at the Cleveland Browns game.
Stacey has always shown me what it means to be a champion. She is now showing me, our family, and her two sons, Evan and Owen, what it is to be a hero. They, like her, are tremendous athletes and I believe if they have only half of her determination, they will be extremely successful.
Stacey should be honored at the Browns game because I believe that she has and will become an inspiration of dedication to other women who are stricken with this horrible affliction. It is my hope that her story will also be a early warning of prevention to women who believe they are too young to begin checking for cancer.
The Buffalo Bills come to town on my 33rd Birthday, October 3rd. I will be there in my seats in the Dawg Pound and I will receive no better gift than to be looking down to see my sister, my hero, telling her story on the 50 yard line.