Coach K helps cancer patient make it to UNC-Duke game

Melanie Day (David Grzybowski | CBS North Carolina)

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The Duke-Carolina game is one of the hottest tickets in town. One fan traveled more than 2,000 miles from Utah to make it to the game with the help of a special friend.

Melanie Day, 38, is a huge college basketball fan. Thursday, she’ll get a chance to do something she’s never done before — sitting inside Cameron Indoor Stadium for the Duke-Carolina game.

“I didn’t think you could actually get tickets,” she said. “From what I understand it’s like sold out forever.”

You wouldn’t know to look at her, with her relaxed demeanor and warm smile, but she’s waging a fierce battle against stage-four breast cancer.

A former college basketball player at UCLA and Bringham Young University, she was diagnosed in 2013.

For therapy, she started a blog called Five Years to Live. On that blog, she posted that she had always wanted to attend a Duke-Carolina basketball game.

“It’s not just a basketball game,” she said. “It’s so much more. It’s the experience. It’s the two biggest (rivals) in college sports.”

To make her bucket-list request a reality, her former coach at BYU wrote to Duke head coach Mike Kryzewski, asking for his help.

Coach K granted that wish. Now, there will be two tickets waiting for Melanie. She and her husband traveled from Salt Lake City to be at Thursday’s game.

“I’ve shed a lot of tears of excitement and appreciation and gratefulness,” she said. “That these people would care so much about my simple, but maybe not simple request to do this.”

She added, “Every day is a bonus day, and that’s my motto now. Any time I get, I’m just on borrowed time, and I want to live it to the fullest. And I want to share that message with other people even if they don’t have a terminal illness.

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