MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. (Oct. 15, 2014) — Basketball season is fast-approaching, but for the Milligan College women’s basketball program, much more than a simple game has been on the minds of the Buffaloes the last few months.
For the families of Caitlyn Cain and Kristian Moses, this is especially true.
Cain, who was diagnosed this summer with alveolar soft part sarcoma—a very rare cancer—has spent much of the first half of her senior year in and out of the hospital undergoing surgeries and radiation treatments. Her surgeries took place this summer.
Moses, too, has spent much of her senior year in and out of the hospital, having provided her mother, Brenda, with her kidney last month after receiving news that she was eligible for a transplant.
“Coming in as freshmen together, Kristian and I would never have thought we would be going through anything like this, especially at the same time,” said Cain, a nursing student from Kingsport, Tennessee. “Even though we are going through extremely different medical issues, we definitely support one another. I believe we understand each other’s struggles, and I hope I have helped and encouraged her because she has been an inspiration in my life.”
Encouragement has been one of the key components for both families during the last several months, and their teammates and coach have taken part in this in numerous ways, including organizing a fundraiser for the two families. Named “Harmony & Hope: a Buff Nation Benefit,” the concert fundraiser will feature Head Coach Rich Aubrey’s daughter, Erin Aubrey, and her musical group performing Friday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. in the Mary B. Martin Auditorium in Seeger Chapel.
“My team has gone above and beyond to support me in any way they can,” Cain said. “They prayed for me through the surgeries, tests, appointments, radiation treatments and everything in between. They helped me in ways I don’t even think they were aware of just by being themselves. They helped put a sense of normalcy back in my life with silly text messages and just making sure I was okay. I am constantly overwhelmed by the love they show me every day.”
On receiving the news that her pathology tests came back indicating a cancerous sarcoma, Cain explained a feeling of helplessness and that she lacked control of her own life. However, Cain knew God was in control and that she needed to trust in him and have faith.
“(God’s) plan, not mine, is perfect,” she said. “My relationship with God, family and friends became my rock. God has taken care of me and had his hand guiding my plan of care and healing. I have grown closer to God. I want to live my life for God and share everything he has done for me.”
Kristian and her mother’s experience led the Moses family to many of the same revelations.
Brenda explained how a kidney disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, was causing her own immune system to attack her kidneys and that, given her circumstance, a kidney replacement would likely extend her life. When the family received confirmation from doctors early this summer—after two years of dialysis—that Brenda was eligible for a transplant, Kristian immediately went to see if she was a match.
Not only did doctors discover Kristian was a match, but an additional artery going to her right kidney made her a perfect match.
“It was like God designed her body to give her left kidney,” Brenda said.
Kristian and her mother underwent a successful operation on Sept. 19 at UT Medical Center, roughly an hour north of Kristian’s hometown of Tellico Plains, Tennessee.
“This whole experience has been miraculous and has touched a lot of people in our community,” Kristian said. “It’s awesome how God has worked through all this to show people how awesome He is and what He can do in people’s lives.”
Thankfully, both students are on the road to recovery.
In terms of basketball, these medical circumstances will impact Cain’s and Moses’ playing careers quite differently. Due to the nature of their procedures, Cain has been able to continue competing, and in fact, did not miss a conditioning workout or practice despite having five radiation treatments each week over a span of seven weeks during the preseason. Moses, on the other hand, was forced to make a decision between her senior season of college basketball and her mother’s health.
An obvious choice.
“Caitlyn has had a really good preseason, and it looks like she’ll be able to contribute on the court,” Coach Aubrey said. “For Kristian, it looks like this will take a different form, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the decisions she’s made and the way she’s handled herself. I’ve really appreciated the fact that she’s demonstrated a peace when I’ve talked to her about it.”
The unique situations for both the Cain and Moses families have indeed shaped those involved in a positive way, and the impact it’s had on the basketball team has been amazing.
“You could coach an entire career and not encounter one situation like this on your team,” Aubrey said. “But we’ve encountered two in the same year and in the same class, and it’s turned out to be a blessing for our team.”
Friday night’s fundraiser is open to the public. Attendees are asked to dress in business formal attire and bring a $5 donation. Additional donations will be accepted.
To learn more about Milligan, visit www.milligan.edu.