Valvano's daughter battles cancer

RALEIGH Right after the Jimmy V Celebrity Golf Classic in 2005, Jamie Howard learned she had breast cancer. She was only 33. Jamie shared the turmoil she faced and the hope she found in her father's legacy.

Unlike her famous father who made his battle with cancer a very public fight, Jamie Howard's diagnosis was deeply personal and private. A blow that caught her completely off guard. "It wasn't something that I thought about or feared or did anything to prevent," Jamie explained while talking to Eyewitness News Anchor Angela Hampton.

All Jamie could think of was her two young sons. Her youngest child has special needs. "What I thought of was the only thing worse than seeing your child struggle as he faces challenges is to think that you're not going to be there to help and love him along the way, so my children were very instrumental in getting me back to being a Mom."

Jamie chose an aggressive treatment - a double mastectomy. Her family, close friends and a team of doctors and nurses guided her through months of medical care. "I remember the first treatment that I had, the nurse leaning over and touching my hand and saying I was your dad's nurse when he received treatment 13-years ago," Jamie said. "So there was this feeling that I wasn't alone, that my dad had made sure there were people to care for me."

Despite that bit of comfort, Jamie says she was very angry at the disease and her father. "He was kind of the rock of our family and just his passion and his humor kept us moving forward and I found myself feeling like why aren't you here to help me right now," Jamie went on to explain the anger was leading to depression, but just when she thought she'd hit rock bottom, she had a revelation.

"I was sitting in the kitchen, kind of crying out to my mom and I heard my dad's voice as clearly as if it was you and I talking and I remember the words he spoke 13-years ago when he established the V Foundation and he said, 'I'm starting the V Foundation for Cancer Research,'" she explained. "It may not save my life. It may save my children's lives. It may save someone you love, and it was that instant, honestly, was when I said, ok Dad, you did not leave me alone. You gave me a gift and you gave all of us a gift in the V Foundation."

Eyewitness News will have a lot more on The Jimmy V Celebrity Golf Classic all weekend long.

Look for an hour of live coverage on ABC11 Eyewitness News from Pinehurst Sunday morning at 9 a.m. Sunday night watch an Eyewitness News special Jimmy V: A Legacy of Hope at 11:35 p.m.

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