Syracuse senior guard Tiana Mangakahia announced Monday in a release that she has been diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer and will begin chemotherapy this week. She said she would undergo surgery after that.
"I know this will be tough, but I will get through it," Mangakahia said in the statement. "This is just the beginning for me, and I will come out stronger. I have much more to accomplish and I hope to inspire others to overcome their own adversity just like I know I will."
Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman expressed his support of Mangakahia in a social media post on Monday.
Mangakahia was second in Division I in assists per game (8.4) this season, behind St. Francis' Amy O'Neill (8.6) and just ahead of Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu (8.2.) Along with her 287 assists, Mangakahia led Syracuse in scoring (16.9 PPG) last season and also averaged 4.9 rebounds. The Orange went 25-9 overall and 11-5 in the ACC, falling in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Mangakahia, a 24-year-old graduate student and native of Brisbane, Australia, was named first team All-ACC as a sophomore and junior. She led Division I in assists (304) and assists per game (9.8) her sophomore season. She considered declaring for the WNBA draft this year, but opted to play one more season at Syracuse.
"This is beatable and I will fight and win," she wrote. "I want to thank everyone who has reached out already and those who will support me moving forward. Since I decided to forgo the WNBA draft and return to Syracuse for my final year, I've been working hard and training so my team and I can achieve our goals. Now my focus has shifted to fighting cancer, and I will come out a stronger person."