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Thinking pink

Women's basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in October 2013 and went through a series of treatments that lasted into March.

Sylvia Hatchell holds pink flowers and talks with firefighters dressed in pink uniforms
The Pink Heals tour visits with UNC Women’s Basketball Coach Sylvia Hatchell while visiting several stops at UNC-Chapel Hill. Photos by Dan Sears, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

South Road on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus became a make-shift parade stop Tuesday morning as the Pink Heals National Tour rolled into town for a day-long celebration to support women and raise awareness to help battle cancer.

The fleet of trucks – a couple in pink paint and a few in Carolina blue – stopped outside Carmichael Arena to honor North Carolina Hall of Fame head basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell, who battled leukemia last season. The assembled group spent about an hour sharing stories about how cancer has touched their lives.

“Everyone is going to be affected by cancer at one time or another in their life,” Hatchell told a crowd that included fire fighters wearing fire suits from head-to-toe, Pink Heal Tour volunteers, members of the UNC athletic department and many of Hatchell’s basketball staff.

“Cancer doesn’t care what your title is. It doesn’t matter what your salary is or what your skin color is. It affects everyone.”

She continued: “I feel so blessed to be here at a place that has a Lineberger Cancer Center because they are the best at what they do. Some of the research they did on me was less than six months old. Lineberger wants to be the No. 1 public cancer center in America and they’re close to it.”

Hatchell was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in October 2013 and went through a series of treatments that lasted into March. In May, Dr. Pete Voorhees, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center announced she had completed her chemotherapy treatments and will be back for the upcoming 2014-15 season.

“AML is a bad leukemia and not a lot of people survive it, but because of Lineberger and the research they’re doing here I could be treated and I’m doing great,” said Hatchell.

The Pink Heals National Tour lasts about five months from start to finish and is volunteer driven. They drive their fire trucks, police cars and buses all over the country to support women, using pink as a visual reminder to keep fund raising going with the emphasis on local donated monies going directly back into the community.

“The main goal is to bring love and hope and support to everybody fighting cancer, especially starting with women,” said Byron Greeson, a captain of the Chapel Hill Fire Department.

The tour will remain in the state of North Carolina through September before heading to Florida in early October. Its next stop is Wednesday in High Point.