Cancer happens to other people.
At least that’s what 18-year-old Bre Colombo thought before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last October. “I had no idea that was coming,” she said. “My family doesn’t have a history with cancer, so the diagnosis was shocking.”
“It came when I was supposed to be visiting colleges and deciding where to go,” she said. “With being in the hospital so often, it was hard to make a decision, but the thought of playing soccer again sounded awesome.”
She underwent lower abdominal surgery and chemotherapy treatments. “I went three days a week every three weeks,” Bre said. “I received my last chemo treatment on Dec. 23, 2015, and was announced cancer-free on Jan. 5.”
She returned to the field for her high school team that spring but didn’t play much. “I barely stepped foot on the field,” she said. “It was just good to be part of team again, and I used that season to get back in shape.”
“I decided to keep playing soccer because I didn’t want cancer to define me,” she said. “I wanted to beat cancer and still get to do what I loved.”
Before her diagnosis, Bre played on a club team for Jason Wyland, St. Charles Community College assistant coach. She said she knew that if she wanted to play soccer in college SCC would have a spot for her.
She signed with the Cougars in the spring of 2016.
“Right off the bat, I saw that Bre is extremely coachable,” said Josh Tyler, SCC women’s head coach. “She wants to be good and will soak up anything we, as coaches, teach her.”
Despite her role as a defensive standout this season, Bre grabbed her first goal against Lincoln College on Oct. 8. “It wasn’t a match winner or anything, but it built my confidence for sure,” she said. “It kind of showed me that I was able to play again – to fully play.”
“There aren’t words to describe the feeling of just being able to get back on the field – running and working and competing with everyone else,” she said. “It’s a miracle to me.”
“Bre has played an amazing season so far,” Tyler said. “She played just about every minute this year as a wing back. As nice as she is, she battles for the ball and is a major reason our defense is so solid this year.”
Off the field, Bre volunteers at SCC as a note taker for students with disabilities as well as at the hospital. “I feel like it should just be normal for people to help those who need help,” she said. “Helping at the hospital allows me to give back and serve patients on a deeper level because I understand how grueling what they’re going through can be.”
“Bre rolls with the punches. She’s taught me to always turn something into a positive, always stay humble and stick to my values,” said Kelli Jungewaelter, Bre’s friend, teammate and roommate. “She is truly radiant, always smiling, very chill and a true friend.”
“If anything, I hope Bre’s teammates learn from her to recognize how grand life is and just how blessed they are to be playing a game they love,” Tyler said.