Stories about breast cancer that can inspire and inform

Blog  |  Newsroom

Peggy’s Story: A Passion for Pickleball 

Peggy Smock credits her passion for pickleball for saving her life. She and her husband, Craig, have been playing for years. “We love the community we’ve found. We have friends we’ve met on the court. It’s just a great way to get out there, to be active,” Peggy said. “I loved pickleball before I learned I had cancer.”  

It was during a pickleball game last summer that Peggy was hit in the chest by a ball. Shortly after, she felt a lump in her breast and was surprised at how tender the area was but, she reasoned, the ball had hit her pretty hard. It made sense that a lump had developed. 

During an appointment with her health care provider, Peggy mentioned the lump. “Even though my mother is a two-time breast cancer survivor, my doctor said it was dense breast tissue,” she said. Peggy’s annual mammogram months earlier had come back clear, so it was easy to dismiss any concerns she might have had. “Maybe that’s what I wanted to hear.”  

Peggy didn’t think about the lump again until a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer several weeks later. Peggy’s breast was still tender, and she could still feel the lump. “It made me think well, maybe I should investigate this a little more.” Peggy’s OBGYN thought it might be a cyst but agreed they should look into it.   

“From there, things took off,” Peggy said. “There wasn’t just one mass, there were two.” In late 2021, Peggy learned she had a type of breast cancer called invasive ductal carcinoma, estrogen receptor positive, progesterone receptor positive and HER2 negative. Her treatment will include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy

The moment Peggy learned she had breast cancer is etched in her mind. “You hear those words, and you assume it’s a death sentence,” she said. But pickleball reminded Peggy that there is life to live, even in the midst of treatment.  

Peggy has continued to play pickleball as often as she can, and the friends she and Craig made on the pickleball court have rallied around her. “As a breast cancer patient, when people donate and support Komen, it’s overwhelming. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life,” she said. “Now I have friends in the pickleball world who are doing the Komen pickleball challenge. It means everything. What Komen is doing is giving me a chance to live. People may think pickleball is just a game, but for me, it’s motivation to fight harder.” 

While Peggy might not be able to play as competitively as she’d like right now, she’s still as passionate about the game. “The pickleball community is so encouraging. When I play, it’s my time to set aside my diagnosis and just live my life. If I had not been playing pickleball, I would not have gotten hit in the chest, and I may not have found the lump,” Peggy said. “For Komen to pair with the pickleball community to raise money, it’s just the most amazing thing. The pickleball community is so supportive. They’re helping make a difference.”  

Komen’s Pickleball for the Cure allows you to take your passion for pickleball and turn it into a force for good, whether you’re a recreational player or a competitive player. Learn more.