Tennessee's Warlick inspired by sister's recovery

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 16, 2013 at 10:24 am •  Published: February 16, 2013
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Whenever Tennessee coach Holly Warlick needs inspiration, she only has to look at the example set by her older sister.

While Warlick was preparing for her debut season as the Lady Vols' head coach last fall, her sister was battling breast cancer. After undergoing a double mastectomy in September, Marion Ferrill has recovered to the point that she has attended all but one Tennessee home game and four of the Lady Vols' road games.

Warlick's family situation brings special meaning to Sunday's matchup as No. 12 Tennessee (19-5, 10-1 Southeastern Conference) hosts Vanderbilt (16-8, 6-5) in its annual "Live Pink, Bleed Orange" game to raise awareness of breast cancer and support the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Both teams will have pink uniforms, with Tennessee wearing a lighter shade.

"You talk about courage and competing, that's an example to me of being courageous, understanding what you have to do and just tackling it head on," Warlick said. "That's what she did. It's incredible what she went through, and I'm obviously proud of how she went through it. We're very blessed she made it through."

Ferrill, who had been undergoing annual mammograms since the age of 30, said she discovered in late August that she had breast cancer. She said the diagnosis came exactly a year after she learned she had Parkinson's disease.

"Sometimes you think if you get diagnosed with a disease, all of a sudden, you should feel it or feel bad or have some side effects or have some things that are synonymous with that disease," Ferrill said. "I just didn't feel bad. I was upset, yes, but I couldn't get too upset because I didn't feel bad at all."

Ferrill said the news devastated Warlick. The two sisters had always been close and even shared a room while growing up together in Knoxville with their brother.

"We've always been there for each other," said Ferrill, the oldest of the three siblings. "I helped her out when she was in school and before school. She helps me out. Whatever the other one needs, we want to be sure that they have it. My brother's that way too. He keeps up with Holly and keeps up with me. He calls me at least once a day."

Ferrill said she had the double mastectomy in late September. She underwent two reconstructive surgeries in December. Her cancer now is in remission.

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