Clemson Coach Allison Kwolek Diagnosed with Breast Cancer


Fresh off its first-ever ACC win and an appearance in the national rankings, the Clemson women’s lacrosse team delivered some sobering news Tuesday.

Head coach Allison Kwolek has breast cancer.

In a video posted on social media and the team’s website, Kwolek said she was diagnosed Feb. 24, the day before the Tigers’ ACC opener against Notre Dame.

“It was shocking and scary, but I have found comfort in my doctors’ positive outlook and the treatment plan that’s in place,” she said.

Kwolek, the former Richmond head coach who was hired two years ago to build the Clemson program from the ground up, added that she would begin treatment immediately.

“I’ll need to step away for a few games but look forward to returning this season,” she said.

The Tigers are off to a 7-2 start in their inaugural season. They defeated Duke 11-10 on Saturday and are ranked No. 14 in this week’s Nike/USA Lacrosse Division I Women’s Top 20. They host No. 4 Boston College on Thursday.

Kwolek penned a personal letter on the team’s website Tuesday, signed also by her husband, Mark, and daughter, Olivia. That letter appears below.

Dear Clemson Family, 

More than 264,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the United States. As I found out recently, this year the number includes me. 

This was a stunning development for my family and me, and we are just beginning to process the impacts. I am ready to start treatment immediately, and the support of my doctors, family, team and community have been overwhelming. 

I plan on staying as involved as possible, however as I begin treatment, there will be times where I am absent, or present but limited in my physical capacity. I have full faith in my incredible staff and our athletic department support system to carry on our standard and continue to move this program forward. I know there will be good days and bad days, but I will fight. 

My doctors are optimistic about my prognosis. I cannot emphasize the importance of getting a mammogram enough. Early detection is among the most important things we can do to help treat this awful disease. I urge you to consider being checked, and to find more information about how to do so.

Thank you for the outpouring of support for our family, and please continue to stand with our team and program during this time. 

Allison, Mark and Olivia Kwolek


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