CASHION — Jayci Robison knows life without basketball will come soon enough. She saw no reason to rush.
So, even though she was only a fraction of her former athletic self, even though she had fainted during games — and even though she had to undergo heart surgery last September — Robison wanted to play her senior season at Cashion.
“I couldn't do it,” said her father, Jason Robison, with a level of honesty that would be shared by most people. “She's a lot stronger than I am.”
Jayci has Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or POTS. It's a condition that causes a decreased blood flow, lightheadedness, fainting, rapid heart rate, fatigue, disorientation, muscle weakness and several other symptoms — none of which are conducive to being a successful basketball player.
But Jayci wasn't going to let that stop her. Jayci's career might end as early as Friday night, but not because of any medical hindrance.
Cashion faces Pioneer at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Hennessey, in a win-or-go-home Class 2A district playoff game. A win will keep them around at least until next weekend, but a state tournament run will be tough to pull off for the unranked Wildcats.
In junior high and early in her high school years, Jayci had sights set on some day playing college basketball. And she looked the part. She earned a starting job as a freshman at Cashion.
A couple months after her sophomore season, while playing in a summer league game, she passed out for the first time. It was brushed off as dehydration.
But the symptoms worsened. Admitted to the emergency room with a racing heartbeat, she was told she was having a panic attack.
“But I knew it was something worse,” she said. “It took 4½ months to get a diagnosis, because it's kind of a rare disease.”
The condition isn't life-threatening, and most teenagers diagnosed with POTS see the vast majority of symptoms reduce as they get into their mid-20s. Only in rare cases do the symptoms persist for life.
Medically, many of the treatments for POTS are experimental, and there's no known cure, other than time. At one point last year, Jayci was taking 17 different medications.
Jayci once asked her teammates if she should quit — not because she wanted to, but because she didn't want her condition to be a burden on the team. They wanted her there, and she wanted to be there.