TROY, Ala. (WTVY) -- For Troy senior forward Kate Rodgers, each tattoo has a meaning.
Troy senior forward Kate Rodgers (Source: WTVY)
"This one right here is for my mom," said Rodgers. "It says fight like a girl with the breast cancer symbol and boxing gloves."
"This one right here says strength. It's from where my aunt passed from breast cancer."
They are a tribute to those close to her.
That's kind of how I honor them, through tattoos," said Rodgers. "It's how I express myself. Everything on me means something to me."
Since graduating high school, Rodgers has had to experience breast cancer with loved ones not once, but twice with her mom and aunt while she was a freshman at Ole Miss.
"I think that was the hardest part for me was the distance," said Rodgers. "That's what really got me. If anything would have happened, I couldn't get to her. I couldn't move how I wanted to move. That really bothered me."
After a two-year battle, Kate's mother would be in remission. Her aunt, however, passed away in 2017.
"It's a heavy load but I was made to carry it," Rodgers said. "That's as best as I can describe it. I've been through a lot in my life. I've always carried it well. I don't let it dictate how I treat people or how I move throughout my day. I just wake up positive and just know things will be good and that's what will get me through."
Tragedy struck Kate once again when she got to Troy.
Kate's high school basketball coach at Wenonah high school, Emmanuel Bell, passed away after a fight with lung cancer.
"He meant the world to me," said Rodgers. "He was more of a father to me than anything. He took care of me. He took me in when I had nothing and nobody. I forever thank him for that. For me, still playing and keep going everyday, that's my paying homage to him. I could never repay him for everything he's done for me. That alone, I think he's proud of me."
Kate honors Bell every day with a tattoo on her wrist and picture around her neck.
"Every time I think about him, I might just look at my tattoo or just have a little thought about him," said Rodgers. "When I get these tattoos, it symbolizes them always being here with me."
In a four-year span, three loved ones affected by this heinous disease. Rodgers continues to persevere on and off the court.