Phoenix Mercury's Jessica Breland medically exempt from playing this season

Phoenix Mercury forward Jessica Breland has been medically excused from participating in the WNBA this season, it was announced.

Breland had Hodgkin's lymphoma while in college at North Carolina. She sat out the 2009-10 season, then finished her Tar Heels career in 2011.

Because she is medically exempt, Breland will still receive her salary for the 2020 season. Her absence means the Mercury will have a 10-player roster. The maximum WNBA roster size is 12, but salary cap issues limited Phoenix to 11 players before Breland was excused.

"As a cancer survivor you fear a relapse, but you never think about the long-term effects chemotherapy reeked on your body," Breland said in a statement. "The threat of COVID-19 has forced me to acknowledge a harsh reality: although I am one of the top 144 WNBA players, my battle with cancer years ago left me vulnerable to coronavirus.

"With a heavy heart, I will be sitting out the upcoming WNBA season. I am blessed to have the Phoenix family behind me and their full support. I wish everyone the best in Florida, and I'll be thinking of you and cheering from afar!"

Breland, 32, was traded to Phoenix in February from Atlanta, where she played the past two seasons. A second-round draft pick in 2011, she also has played for New York, Connecticut, Indiana and Chicago.

It has not been announced yet if other players, including Washington's Elena Delle Donne and Tina Charles, will get medical exemptions for this season. Neither is in Florida with the Mystics.

Among WNBA staff, Seattle head coach Dan Hughes and Los Angeles assistant Fred Williams are not with their teams this season due to both being high-risk for complications if they were to contract the coronavirus.