She was a second-grader at the time, way back in 2003, so it was the only way Lindsey Rogers knew how to react to the news.
Young Lindsey had just watched her father, Steve, emerge from a months-long fight with pancreatic cancer. Things were beginning to return to normal in the Rogers house when Lindsey was given the news by her parents.
This time her mom, Wendy, had her own cancer battle beginning. A diagnosis of breast cancer meant the Rogers family would go through another round of watching a loved one fight through chemotherapy and radiation.
Lindsey reacted the way a second-grader would – with a mixture of doubt and uncertainty and plenty of fear.
“My dad had just gotten through pancreatic cancer,” Lindsey said. “And I remember them telling me, ‘Believe it or not, your mom has cancer.’
“I remember laughing. I was like, ‘Ha-ha. Right.’ I was only in the second grade. I didn’t know how to react. Then I remember going to my room and crying.”
The tears have long since dried.
Treatments at Jacksonville’s Mayo Clinic helped Wendy and Steve Rogers fight through their cancer scares. Today, they spend time sharing their stories with other cancer patients and their families. They work to raise money and awareness for various cancer-related causes.
And they devote time to their most important outreach program — parenting.
Lindsey is the youngest of three Rogers children. Older brothers Christopher and Preston are former golfers at Chiles High and now attend Florida State. Lindsey is a junior at Chiles in her third year on the varsity volleyball team. She is a team captain for a second straight season.
Recent injuries have limited her play on the court this season, but her coach beams with pride as she describes Lindsey’s role on the team.
“She’s the one you want to go to in a crunch,” Chiles coach Kaitlin DiLuzio said. “She’s the one who wants it on game point. She’s just a confident athlete and a great player.”
Cancer is no longer a subject that forces Lindsey to her bedroom in tears. Today, it’s a subject she talks about openly — and proudly — even as she recalls the times she rubbed aloe lotion on her mother’s back to help ease the radiation burns or the nights she would hold her mom’s hand in the car rides back from Jacksonville after treatments.
“I think that her parents have instilled a sense of pride in her that they beat this and they defied the odds,” DiLuzio said. “I think it’s a sense of accomplishment for her family and that’s why she is very outspoken about it and very interested in educating as many people as she can. Her family has been very active in reaching out to people in the community about it.”
That’s why pink-related events this month mean so much for Lindsey and her family.
The Timberwolves took part in a “Dig Pink” volleyball match Tuesday night at Lincoln. Lindsey said it was “a game for me to play all out. Not just to win, but for breast cancer.”
And to help spread the story her mom is already sharing.
“It’s huge, to me,” Wendy Rogers said. “These are the kids that will be the next generation impacted by the disease. Hopefully the more people we can get to become aware this could be a problem, the more people we can save. Because we don’t know how to prevent it.”
Both Lindsey and her mom realize their family is just one of so many that has been impacted by cancer. They know they are not alone, and they hope sharing their story may help others by providing counsel or simply sending a reminder to get regular checkups.
“A lot of these girls say, ‘This will never happen to me. It didn’t happen to my mother,’ ” Wendy said. “Well, it didn’t happen to my mother, either. And what they have to know is that, I think, the latest statistics are 1 in 7 will be impacted. There are 15 girls on this team, so two of them are likely to be impacted by this disease.”