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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

“Nobody knew what I was going through”: Thompson speaks out about tumor

Former+Texas+State+forward+Lauryn+Thompson+poses+for+a+photo+during+media+day%2C+October+12%2C+2022%2C+at+Strahan+Arena.
Photo Courtesy of Lauryn Thompson
Former Texas State forward Lauryn Thompson poses for a photo during media day, October 12, 2022, at Strahan Arena.

Lauryn Thompson, a former forward on the Texas State women’s basketball team, devoted her childhood to fulfilling her dream of becoming a Division 1 basketball star. However, at 22 years old a cancer diagnosis changed her plans permanently.

In September 2022 after struggling mentally and physically, Thompson sought medical attention and received news she had elevated prolactin levels that had developed a growth. After speaking with a specialist that month, Thompson was formally diagnosed with a right-sided pituitary microadenoma— a benign brain tumor.

Thompson began treatment in secret only telling her family and immediate friends. Due to the strength of her medicine, her days on the court lessened.

“To know me is to know I have a huge personality,” Thompson said. “[I’m] always talking and laughing, but my mental health was so bad I could not overcome what was happening to me. I wasn’t connected to my teammates anymore [or] my coaches— I was alone.”

With several knee surgeries throughout her career, the concept of playing through pain was not new to Thomspon, but she wasn’t sure she could handle the ramifications of her disease, she said.

Thompson’s decision to disclose her condition to the coaching staff came abruptly, as her tumor began to push on her optic nerve and render her temporarily blind for brief periods.

“[Thompson] approached us after she had to sit out of a game in December 2022,” Texas State Head Coach Zenarae Antoine said. “It was important at that point she started being really aggressive about her health care.”

After experiencing a series of panic attacks caused by the diagnosis during summer 2023 training, Thompson stopped attending practices due to rising health concerns.

After corresponding with the student trainer, Thompson decided medical disqualification was her best course for the 2023-24 season, taking her out of basketball altogether in her sixth and final collegiate year.

“[Thompson] came to me at the end of September 2023 saying she just wasn’t feeling right and needed to step back,” Antoine said. “She’s not ever like that. She was a first-string player and my understanding was she was still able to play with the tumor.”

 

<p>Texas State redshirt senior forward Lauryn Thompson (25) goes for a layup against Troy University, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats lost 84-78.</p>
Former Texas State forward Lauryn Thompson (25) floats the ball over her defender during the game versus Troy, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, at Strahan Arena. (Sarah Manning)

While these sentiments still stand, Thompson said she didn’t feel them when discussing her future with Texas State women’s basketball. The meeting was instead taken over by the systematic pressure of the basketball program rather than the supportive community she needed.

“It could have been overwhelming because knowing me, I was just listing option after option,” Antoine said. “I can see why she could feel that she wasn’t supported in that meeting, but the intent was to give her options and tools so I’m sure a lot did get lost in translation.”

Thompson believed she was a critical piece to the women’s basketball program. However, this period made her feel undervalued and left behind, she said.

“I neglected myself,” Thompson said. “I just pushed through and played for my teammates because I didn’t want to stop. I needed some motivation and support, but I kind of feel like I got the opposite.”

After stepping back from basketball, Thompson decided to use her experience and knowledge to shed light on the inner struggles of student-athletes and improve their care standard.

Thompson advocated for diversity and inclusion at the Sun Belt Annual Conference to be incorporated under the value statement on SAAC Sun Belt website.

Along with founding the Black Student-Athlete Alliance chapter at Texas State and serving as the president, Thompson is an advocate with the NCAA Women’s Basketball Student-Athlete Engagement Group and runs social media and communications for her master’s program.

“If we can control the experience that these student-athletes have, then we should give them the best opportunities in their current moment, but more importantly even after graduation we need an emphasis on caring about our athletes through the rest of their [lives],” Thompson said.

According to Antoine, Thompson was a vital part of the Bobcats’ success in the Sun Belt Conference Championship and her impact remains in the team’s spirit.

“[Thompson] definitely contributed to our team’s success, specifically in the year we won the [Sun Belt Conference] championship,” Antoine said. “She plays with a lot of emotion, a lot of passion— student-athletes play through chronic injury and lay it out on the line. For that, she left a legacy.”

Thompson will graduate in May with her master’s degree and plans to make her return to the basketball world as a coach, but is unsure of the details.

Editor’s note: The print version of this story incorrectly stated Thompson was the first transfer to the Texas State women’s basketball program. In addition, it incorrectly stated that Thompson participated in media day and was then removed from the website. These edits have since been reflected in this version.

 

Texas State redshirt junior forward Lauryn Thompson (25) talks to her teammates while playing offense during a game against the University of Louisiana, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats won in OT 72-71.
Former Texas State forward Lauryn Thompson (25) talks to her teammates while playing offense during a game against Louisiana-Lafayette, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, at Strahan Arena. (Star file photo)
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