KENNESAW, Ga. – Kennesaw State women’s basketball coach Agnus Berenato has watched her teams battle on the hardwood from the sidelines 913 times in her coaching career, but in the coming months, she will start a new battle off the court.
“Trust me now, believe me later.”
Those are the words Coach Berenato expressed to her team during a recent team dinner when she shared the news of her newest battle, a fight with Breast Cancer. She began her fight on Thursday with a successful initial surgery.
“Unfortunately, breast cancer, or cancer period, is not new to me,” Berenato said. “I am now a statistic and will do whatever it takes to beat this disease. My mother and brother passed from cancer and I have a sister who is a breast cancer survivor. The treatment is so good and the cure rate is so high. I am ready to fight. I have been an advocate for cancer patients my entire life, and will continue to educate the young ladies I coach about this terrible disease.”
Coach Berenato has made two things very clear as she starts this process:
“I am not afraid of cancer and I will not be defined by this.”
When the team hosts its annual Pink Day on Saturday, Feb. 9, against NJIT to promote cancer awareness, the event will hold a new meaning.
“I look forward to joining other survivors in the Convocation Center this winter to bring awareness to this disease. I have a great medical team at Georgia Breast Care led by Dr. Rhonda Wachsmuth. Dr. Wachsmuth will be my co-guest coach at our Pink Game, and together, we will beat my cancer.”
“Fortunately, Coach B has been very diligent with her annual mammograms,” said Dr. Rhonda Wachsmuth. “This year, with the 3D mammogram an abnormality was identified. A biopsy revealed a low-grade breast cancer, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Evaluation confirmed an early stage breast cancer that is curable with surgery/radiation therapy and chemotherapy. I consider this to be curable and we are proceeding our treatment with that intent. I look forward to being the co-guest coach at KSU’s Pink game against NJIT.”
As Coach B begins a new challenge, Associate Head Coach Khadija Head will lead the team in her absence, but if anyone knows Coach B, she isn’t going anywhere.
“I don’t plan to miss any games or be out very long,” Berenato insisted.
“We support Coach Berenato 100 percent and will be with her throughout her battle, said Director of Athletics Milton Overton. “She is a fighter and we know she will beat this and continue to be an incredible leader of our women’s basketball program.”
“Coach Berenato’s strength and positive mental attitude play a significant impact for our players and our university as a whole. We know she’ll be applying her can-do spirit to this challenge as well,” said KSU President Pamela Whitten. “I speak for the entire campus in wishing her a speedy recovery as we hold her spot on the basketball court until she returns.”
“As a program, we are both saddened and empowered by this news,” said Khadija Head. “Saddened because Coach B means so much to each of us and empowered because Coach B is a warrior who never backs down from a challenge. Each year we honor cancer survivors during our Pink game and this year we look forward to honoring our leader, our captain, our “S” hero, Coach Berenato. We trust her now, and will continue to believe her forever.”
“I was devastated, but I know in my heart that Coach B is so strong,” said junior women’s basketball player Carlotta Gianolla. “We know that she will beat cancer and that everything will be okay. We will cut the nets down, we will get a ring, and we will do it together. I will always be there for her like she has always been there for me. I love her so much, she’s my American Mom.”
“My mother always had a saying – ‘Plan your work and work your plan’ – and I am ready for this challenge, so let the game begin,” said Berenato.”
So as a new challenge starts for Coach B, let’s trust her now and believe her later.