Drake Women’s Soccer Team Honors Player Who Beat Cancer

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Overcoming thyroid cancer has given Alyssa Brand a new perspective.

"It first and foremost taught me humility," said Brand, a Senior - Midfielder on the Drake Bulldogs women's soccer team. "Driving to the hospital, every day consecutively in a week and seeing other people there who are really sick and like knowing the burden of my family and financially, it just like humbles you."

It was October 11, 2017, the same day Drake played UNI, when Brand got the bad news.

"It`s hard for a college student to go through that, or really anyone to go through it," said Lindsey Horner - Head Coach of the Drake Bulldogs women's soccer team. "But certainly a Division I, college athlete in the middle of the MVC season."

While Brand had to undergo surgery, she says the challenges she faced were more emotional and mental than physical.

"Physically I was really fine to compete," said Brand. "The doctors had decided that, so once they sort of cleared me in that regard, it was sort of like up to me to be like, I'm able to play, I need to mentally focus on it."

And that she did...

Surrounded by the support of her family, coach and team, Brand was able to "Kick Cancer," and inspire everyone around her. And showing vulnerability was key to the process.

"I think we have some tough players on our team, and I think they think it's tough to you know just kind of grind through and not show emotion," said Horner. "Where I think we`re now starting as a group to learn that it's kind of brave to show emotion and to be vulnerable in front of other people and give them that opportunity to support you."

"She took this whole thing with so much grace and dignity even," said Linda Fiorito, a Senior - Defender on the Drake Bulldogs women's soccer team. "She was brave through it all, never let her attitude drop, it was always positive. She was just incredible and it's definitely inspiring to all of us, that if she can go through that, we can go through anything on the soccer field, any other challenges that we`re facing in our life."