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Tennessee's Warlick inspired by sister's recovery

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 16, 2013 at 10:24 am •  Published: February 16, 2013

"With early detection you can get through it," Ferrill said. "I feel early detection saved me."

She credits Warlick for helping her through the grueling recovery process. The situation made this a difficult year for Warlick on and off the court.

Warlick already was facing the pressure of replacing Pat Summitt, who had led Tennessee to 1,098 victories, eight national titles and 18 Final Four appearances in 38 seasons before stepping down last year. Warlick also was concerned about the health of Summitt, who announced in 2011 that she had early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.

Then she learned her sister had cancer less than three months before the start of the season.

"I won't lie to you, it was a tough year with Pat's situation and then hers," Warlick said. "It hits home. You're surrounded by things that happen. As you're struggling with your team, your personal life and your family situation is obviously that much more important. This fall, I was concentrating on our team but totally absorbed and concerned with my sister."

Warlick already had lost her grandmother to breast cancer. Warlick and LSU coach Nikki Caldwell - a former Lady Vols assistant - founded the Champions For A Cause Foundation, which conducts long-distance motorcycle road trips dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer. The foundation has raised more than $125,000.

The foundation has conducted rides from San Francisco to Knoxville and from the Badlands to Las Vegas along with trips to Key West, New Orleans and Niagara Falls. Warlick said she and Caldwell are planning to organize another ride after this season.

"My efforts have been to find a cure for everyone," Warlick said. "It got really personal this fall. It has a huge meaning for me on Sunday. It just shows you that nobody can be protected from breast cancer. We've all got to make sure we do the right things, make sure we get checked and do the proper things to make sure we catch it early."