2019 is the year that turned one local coach’s life upside down, twice.
But, she continues to hit the gym day after day. Her love of the sport and the love of her life, keep her strong amidst tragedy.
Courtney Pierce has been leading the Mandan High School Cheerleading team on and off for 10 years.
“I cheered in high school and I fell in love with it,” she explained.
“She’s so happy, she’s such a happy person. She’s so passionate about cheer, I’ve never seen someone love cheer as much as she does. She’s just like a light when she walks in the room,” said Mandan Senior Cheerleader Kayla Wentz.
And right here on the basketball court, is where she fell in love.
“I think she was attracted to me first, staring at me across the gym, so we met and started hanging out, and the rest is history,” shared Mandan Freshmen Basketball Coach Quincy Pierce.
“I went up to him and I said, ‘You coach for Mandan’. And he said, ‘Yeah, do you go to the games?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I coach cheerleading for Mandan’,” Courtney laughed.
They met in January of 2018, and by June, they were engaged.
But, Courtney shared, “That next basketball season was when I started feeling not the greatest.”
It was March this year, that Courtney received some bad news.
She explained, “We decided to just kind of go out for a family dinner, and after we ordered my phone rang. It was about a quarter to 6 that night, and the doctor told me I had cancer.”
It was thyroid cancer.
“I wasn’t going to leave. She has her two kids, which are basically my two kids. That’s how I look at them. So no, that never even crossed my mind,” shared Qunicy.
After having her entire thyroid removed and some surrounding lymph nodes, Courtney completed treatment in June.
But, as she shared, “I went to the doctor about a couple of weeks after treatment, I was having some other symptoms. A couple of days later, they called me while I was at work and told me it was colon cancer.”
“She told me I can break down, she can support me even though she’s going through this. That’s the biggest thing is she’s just been super strong going through all of it, I don’t know how,” Quincy said.
The Pierces were married in July.
“You just have to put a smile on your face and go on with your day, because that’s the only way to get through it,” Courtney said.
She kept leading her team throughout it all. She even postponed her surgery because it conflicted with her cheer camp.
Another Senior on her team, Kaya Gayette added, “She definitely just pushed through and worked as hard as she did before.”
“I never took a break from coaching. Coaching was actually one of the things that helped me get through all of this,” Courtney explained.
She is in remission, but still has tough days, and there’s an ongoing battle ahead to make sure she stays cancer-free.
Courtney and Quincy are both so hopeful. Her advice: Be your own advocate. You know your body best, and if you feel like something is wrong, go in and request those additional tests.