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There are very few athletes who have the courage after being knocked down, to get back up and run faster, harder, and stronger. There are even fewer who do it twice. 2016 Olympic Rugby hopeful Jillion Potter is not like most. She is one of a kind. And she is taking on her next opponent with more courage, support, and faith than anything in her life.
Potter was recently diagnosed with Stage III Synovial Sarcoma, a very rare, slow growing type of soft tissue cancer effecting three out of a million per year. A little more than two months leading up to her diagnosis, she experienced swelling underneath her jaw, which she thought was an infection or impacted salivary gland. After several unsuccessful attempts to treat it with antibiotics and home remedies, she sought medical attention that revealed that she most likely had a benign tumor. She went on to represent Team USA at the 2014 IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup in France.
“Playing in the World Cup was the hardest thing I have ever done.” In a recent interview, Potter talked about the physical challenge she endured in Paris. “When everyone was out at socials, I was in bed resting. I slept a lot in my spare time.“
Upon her return from the France, she had the tumor removed. Three weeks later, the verdict was in. The tumor was cancerous. For the next six to eight months, Potter will be in for the fight of her life. She began treatment last week in Denver.
Carol, Potter’s wife, is dedicated to supporting her in overcoming this challenge. “Sometimes, very unfortunate things happen to really good people. It’s all about how you react to it. You have to take it one day at a time and that‘s what we are doing. Jill has the best attitude you can have going into something like this.” She commends Potter’s dedication to go into every day with a plan and execute those things that are within her control which include staying disciplined in eating healing foods even when she has no desire to eat at all.
The USA Olympic 7’s Team under the leadership of Ric Suggitt fully supports Potter in her journey and await for her return to the team.
In an effort to defray the treatment costs of all things not covered by insurance including deductibles and co-pays, travel expenses, treatment and incidentals, and nutrition counseling, USA Rugby has established a donations page to benefit Potter. Because of the generosity and support of the rugby community and beyond, the initial goal of $16,400 has been reached. All funds that exceed Potter’s actual out of pocket costs will be donated to The Sarcoma Foundation of America.
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