Brigham Young University’s men’s basketball coach and pancreatic cancer survivor Dave Rose spoke at last week’s 11th annual Fast Break Against Cancer. Hosted annually by UNC men’s basketball coach Roy Williams, the live auction breakfast event reached a major milestone in 2015, having raised more than $2 million over the last 11 years to benefit cancer research and treatment at UNC Lineberger.
During the breakfast, Coach Rose shared that his world was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer six years ago. His plans to coach his team, run a basketball camp and go on recruiting trips were put on hold by his doctors; extensive surgeries and treatments followed.
"It was a difficult time, but I learned two very important things during my cancer journey,” Rose said. "Specifically, that I needed to become a kinder person, and that I had to find ways to enjoy the remaining time I have." That same year, Rose and his wife began pursuing other interests in addition to sports, like visiting art museums, traveling to exotic locations and simply spending quality family time together. “Cancer was a catalyst for some big, very positive life changes,” he explained.
During his remarks, Rose told guests he was extremely grateful to the caregivers who had helped save his life and decided to show his appreciation for them by asking his BYU players to “pay if forward” by performing random acts of kindness for others. “My boys took the challenge to heart. Throughout that entire year, I saw them do so many things for other people, not expecting anything in return,” Rose said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of a basketball team.”
Following the close of Rose’s remarks and the completion of the silent auction, Coach Williams and Tar Heel broadcaster Jones Angell kicked off the live auction. Auction items included an opportunity to watch a home men’s basketball game from the team bench, a sleepover in the Smith Center, a cookout with Coach Williams and his team, and more.
This year's auction also included the most unique item in the history of Fast Break: a Carolina blue office chair that was used by Dean Smith when the Tar Heel basketball offices were located in Carmichael Auditorium. Bidding began on this one-of-a-kind piece of memorabilia at $1,000 and quickly went past $5,000 under the direction of event emcee Jones Angell. The eventual winning bidder at $15,000 was Dr. Mark Graham, a former oncologist at UNC Lineberger who is now in private practice at Waverly Hematology and Oncology. Graham also treated former NC State women’s head coach Kay Yow, and he told the crowd he plans to keep the chair in his treatment room for those receiving chemotherapy, as a tribute both to Smith and to Yow’s grace in her own battle with cancer.
At the conclusion of the event, Coach Williams thanked attendees for making it possible to surpass his $2 million fundraising goal, which directly benefits UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. A special thanks also goes to presenting sponsor Atlantic Packaging and to all of the generous sponsors for supporting Fast Break.