Breland has Hodgkin's lymphoma

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina forward Jessica Breland is being treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma, school officials said Tuesday.

The women's basketball team's leading returning scorer and rebounder is undergoing chemotherapy treatments at UNC Hospitals, and they are expected to continue into the fall, officials said.

Team spokesman Bobby Hundley said the 21-year-old Breland was diagnosed in May and began chemotherapy a short time later. It's unclear whether Breland would be able to play her senior season in 2009-10.

"The last few weeks have been a really emotional time for me, but I've got a very positive attitude about my treatment and I'm looking forward to getting healthy and getting back to playing basketball as soon as possible," Breland said in a statement issued by the school. "I've been keeping my normal schedule, going to class, helping out with camp and I'm not going to let this get me down. I've got lots of love and support from my family, my friends, my teammates and my coaches, and I know I'll be back and better than ever soon."

Dr. Mario Ciocca of the school's sports medicine department says he expects "a positive response to her treatment" because Breland is young and in good physical shape.

She averaged 14.1 points, second to Rashanda McCants' 14.4-point scoring average, and her team-best 8.5 rebounds per game helped lead North Carolina to a 28-7 record and a spot in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

"Obviously, this news came as a shock to everyone, but Jessica is a fighter and I know that she will attack this with the same attitude and energy she brings to the basketball court," coach Sylvia Hatchell said.