Published 10:31 pm Monday, January 20, 2014

Kailani Decock (19) is in the process of recovering from chemotherapy, and looks to return to the soccer pitch this fall.

Kailani Decock (19) is in the process of recovering from chemotherapy, and looks to return to the soccer pitch this fall.

Troy’s Decock cancer free, ready to play again

The majority of the college students across the nation look to extend their winter break as long as possible. But Troy soccer player Kailani Decock couldn’t wait to get back to the grind of being a normal college student-athlete.

Decock, a senior midfielder for the Trojans, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last fall, and returned home to Canada to fight. After more than a dozen chemotherapy treatments, Decock is back at her home away from home, and ready to play the game she loves one more time.

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Throughout her battle with cancer, Decock found supporters and well wishers at nearly every turn, from her teammates, the “Trojan nation and from her ‘brother,” Ryan White of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.

White cut off his familiar flowing hair in support of Decock,

“He’s like a brother to me,” Decock said. “He’s this real tough guy and he’s known for having this long, flowing hair. It was really cool that he did that, and I didn’t even ask him. He took a picture of himself and said ‘This is for you, sis.’”

The student athletes at Troy all took part in Project 19, to raise awareness for the disease and support Decock’s fight.

Decock said it was humbling to have so much support.

“I’m so lucky,” Decock said. “I have the whole Trojan Nation, so many at school, just everyone behind me. How can I not be positive? There are people that were there in the cancer ward being treated beside me (that) may have had one person beside them. Some people need programs where people will drive them home from chemotherapy because they have no one there to drive them or they have to take a bus. I have thousands of people behind me, and they have no one to go to chemo with them. I have nothing to complain about.”

Through all the chemotherapy treatments, Decock kept a positive attitude because she never lost site of her ultimate goal: getting back to Troy.

In early January, Decock and her mother made the trek from the bustling metropolis of Calgary, Alberta, Canada to Troy.

“My mom came down with me, and she said I didn’t wipe a smile off my face for the first few days,” Decock said. “I was probably the only person saying ‘Yea! It’s class.’ When I set my mind to something, I do it. I knew that I wanted to get back to Troy and play soccer, and the only way to do it was to get through the treatments. That was my motivating factor.”

Decock has scored just one goal in her Troy career, a game winner against Georgia State way back in 2010.

But she is ready to give her senior year one more try.

“It is a slow process, but I am hoping to get my running back by spring,” Decock said. “I will be here everyday during the summer training. I’m ready to get back on the field. It is the same thing as surgeries, I just did chemo. Right now I’m just going through rehab, not really in the sense that I go to the athletic training room, but it is in a weird way. I have to build my body back up. I can’t go right back in to it. I’m about two months out of chemo right now, and most people wouldn’t go back for a full year. But I am doing this.”

Troy’s 2014 soccer season begins in August.