Battlin' for Van Atta: Team cheers on teammate as she fights her - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Battlin' for Van Atta: Team cheers on teammate as she fights her own battle

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BILLINGS, Mont. -

Marissa Van Atta is a golden girl. Blessed with beauty, brains, drive and athletic talent. But a few months ago, something seemed off. Today, this young woman faces her most formidable foe yet.

KULR 8's Briana Monte spoke with Marissa this evening and had more about her battle and the Battlin' Bears behind her.
Meet Marissa.

"She's really spunky. One of the most upbeat people that I've ever met," basketball player Markaela Francis said.

"She's got a great heart. Fun loving, lives in the moment," another teammate, Justyn Juhl, said. "I mean, I've always been able to go to her for everything."

"Horses, basketball, all that has been in my life," Marissa Van Atta said as she recalls a couple of her passions.

At 23 years old, Marissa was diagnosed with leukemia and then discovered she has a genetic mutation which puts her in a poor risk category-- comparable to stage 4 in tumor cancer.

"I still remember getting the text message from her dad at 6 a.m. in the morning stating that she's got leukemia and they're headed to Denver," Coach Wes Keller said.

"When I came back and understood that the bad mutation was more life threatening than we understood, that's when things started to sink in and I understood that I needed to take the year off, but you really don't understand how you'll react and you kind of just have to push through," Van Atta said. "It's just the same thing on the basketball court. Your body can take a lot more than you realize and it's mind over matter."

Marissa's awe-inspiring personality has empowered her team; motivating them to work even harder on the court.

"When our practices get hard, it's just a reminder you know," Francis said. "There's someone that would kill to be out there right now so you can't take what you have for granted. When you're getting tired? Guess what? Push through it. You have no excuse. If she can push through it in her condition, you can push through it on the basketball court too."

Van Atta will be heading to Washington for a bone marrow transplant. Her team made bracelets to make sure she will be remain with them during practices and games.

"It'll also just be another thing to think about," teammate Alecia Chamberlin said. "Like when you're tired, just push yourself because Marissa would always just push herself."

"You might be going throughout the day and thinking your day's not going well and you look down and all of a sudden, it puts things into perspective," Coach Keller said. "Maybe it's as simple as I look down and I say a little prayer for her."

From all of us at KULR 8, we'd like to wish Marissa a speedy recovery.

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