Tiana Mangakahia has not given up on Olympic dream despite breast cancer diagnoses

Tiana Mangakahia
Tiana Mangakahia

Tiana Mangakahia had her Olympic dream in touching distance. Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The 24-year-old south-east Queenslander will have a double mastectomy next week and is unsure if she will make the Olympics.

The star player received news that she had made the preliminary Olympic squad earlier this year and immediately called her biggest supporters - parents Cynthia and Terei Mangakahia of Victoria Point - from her college campus in the United States where she was playing basketball for Syracuse.

"She rung me and I said 'woohoo, we're saving up for Tokyo'," Ms Mangakahia said.

But joy was quickly replaced by sorrow when Tiana discovered a lump on her left breast while taking a shower.

From 2018: Tiana Mangakahia, 23, is studying at New York's Syracuse University on a basketball scholarship. Photo: Supplied

From 2018: Tiana Mangakahia, 23, is studying at New York's Syracuse University on a basketball scholarship. Photo: Supplied

She called her mother immediately and was told to visit the campus doctor the next day.

Ms Mangakahia said to her at the time that it was probably nothing because she was so young, but on her second visit to the doctor the lump had grown.

She was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer a few days later.

"When we first found out about Tiana's breast cancer we were devastated and we had a cry together over the phone," Ms Mangakahia said.

"When we had some dates (for) chemotherapy, we had a family meeting with Tiana's brothers and their partners and we worked out a plan where we would all take time off work and fly over to Syracuse so a family member was with her while undergoing chemotherapy sessions."

Ms Mangakahia said Tiana's brothers and their partners stayed true to their word and she had a family member alongside her for support during every chemotherapy session.

FAMILY: Tiana Mangakahia with her five brothers.

FAMILY: Tiana Mangakahia with her five brothers.

Both Tiana's parents will also travel to be with her while she undergoes a double mastectomy next week.

Ms Mangakahia said she would have to go through intense rehab after surgery to get her arms moving like normal but was determined to get back on the court.

"The 2020 Olympics is off the table at the moment but she is going to see how she goes," she said.

"Whether there is any chance is dependent on a lot of things.

"Her goal at the moment is to get back to the same level in college basketball... but she is taking a year off playing while she fights this disease.

"Tiana may be the first elite athlete in the world to recover from breast cancer and continue as an elite basketball player."

Ms Mangakahia is considered by many to be one of the best female players in the United States having broken several college records including the most assists in a single season.

She is one of Syracuse's most highly decorated point guards and is expected to be picked up by a WNBA team as soon as she fights the cancer and finishes her college degree.

Her career began at Capalaba's PCYC while she was attending Hilliard State School along with her brothers.

She lived at Alexandra Hills and Victoria Point for most of her life before moving over to the United States to chase her college basketball dream.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to support Tiana through her journey.

Donations can be made here..

This story She was on the cusp of her Olympic dream, then came breast cancer first appeared on Redland City Bulletin.