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SU Basketball Star Tiana Mangakahia Feels Support amid Cancer Chemotherapy

Jonathan Hoppe/WAER News

  Syracuse women’s basketball star Tiana Mangakahia continues chemotherapy to treat her stage-two breast cancer, and she says she's felt enormous support from the surrounding community. Thousands have taken to twitter to support her by using the hashtag #Tough4T. 

Mangakahia spoke to the media on Tuesday and emphasized how crucial the community’s support has been over the first four weeks of her treatment. 

“It’s been amazing. I had to go to Boston and Coach Q’s wife came with me… People sending me cards and little letters, it’s been amazing,” Mangakahia said. 

Mangakahia, shown here playing last season, hopes to return to the court in 2020 for one last season at SU.

  The Australian graduate student added that the University has done a great job working with her on the academic side. She plans to take classes at her own pace over the next year. As for basketball, Mangakahia will sit out the upcoming season with hopes of being ready to go for the 2020-21 school year. 

Mangakahia resumes the second half of her chemotherapy at the end of the month. She says all signs point to a full recovery in the near future. 

“Everything is looking good right now,” Mangakahia said. “I have a couple more tests on Friday to see how it’s going.”

Quentin Hillsman, the head coach of SU’s women’s program, was with Mangakahia to support her. He says the upcoming season will be a challenge on his part to handle the emotions that will come with it.

When Mankakahia told Hillsman the news they embraced in tears. Shortly after, Hillsman’s mind shifted. 

“I want her to be comfortable that we’re doing everything we can,” Hillsman said. “She's like a daughter… we’ve been trying to get through this the best way we can.”


Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.