‘Cancer Picked the Wrong Bitch:’ Tralee Hale uses her voice to help others | Special projects

‘Cancer Picked the Wrong Bitch:’ Tralee Hale uses her voice to help others |  Special projects

Hale and Kelee Ringo on Nov. 23, 2009. (Courtesy/Tralee Hale)


On June 12, 2020, Tralee Hale, mother of Georgia football cornerback Kelee Ringo, received the worst news imaginable.

Prior to that day, she had been experiencing a mass in her left breast that began as the size of a pencil eraser and had grown in size over the previous nine months.

He had no idea what it was at the time, but he never imagined it would be cancer. When she finally had time to focus on herself after her son left for Athens on June 3, she decided to start with her health.

He informed medical professionals of the growth and they proceeded to perform a biopsy, removing a sample of the tumor for analysis. The results came back on June 12, nine days after her son left for school, and confirmed that he had breast cancer.

“I was devastated, because I was in complete denial,” Hale said. “I had put off going to get a checkup because he was not yet 40 at the time and cancer is not a family thing.”

Hale was diagnosed with stage 2B triple-negative ductal carcinoma, a form of breast cancer that primarily affects black women under the age of 40. Due to its rapid growth, it is considered an aggressive form of cancer and more difficult to treat.

Hale’s experience with chemotherapy treatment

It started up with chemotherapy treatment. From that moment on, with her son thousands of miles away, unaccompanied and in the midst of a pandemic, she endured some of the darkest experiences of her life.

“It was by far the hardest time,” Hale said. “I had to get really comfortable with myself. I mean, I enjoy the company. We are not meant to be alone… So, I was alone. It was difficult.”

During treatment, she suffered complete hair loss, but considered it one of the minor symptoms. She couldn’t use her hands or feet because they hurt, they were raw and cracked; she couldn’t even open a soda can. She was hungry but couldn’t eat because of her constant nausea. She struggled with loss of taste, joint pain, infections, and severe memory loss with what she calls “chemo brain.”







Tralee Hale

Tralee Hale. (Courtesy/Tralee Hale)


Hale underwent treatment through November 2020 and waited a month until he could begin surgery. She was given two options: have a lumpectomy, a breast-conserving surgery that removes just the tumor, or a bilateral mastectomy, removal of the tumor and all of the breast tissue from both breasts. She chose the latter.

“Having been through what I’ve been through, that was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made,” Hale said.

The lymph nodes under the arm are often the initial sites for breast cancer to spread. During Hale’s mastectomy, doctors removed two lymph nodes in her armpit that contained dead cancer cells, indicating that she had started chemotherapy just in time. In addition, her surgeon created a pocket under her skin for future breast implants using an expander.

He resumed chemotherapy in February 2021 after his surgery, but had to stop in May due to complications from the expander wound not healing properly. However, tissue biopsies during that period revealed that she still had traces of cancer in her blood, so she had to restart chemotherapy immediately.

When additional tests found no trace of cancer cells in Hale’s blood, she was declared cancer-free on February 22, 2022, and soon after took to Twitter to share the news with the world. She was then able to resume the reconstructive surgical process.

“I’m so glad he’s behind me,” Hale said. “And now I’m willing to use my voice and tell everyone what I’ve been through.”

become a defender

Hale has helped fight breast cancer in Athens since her diagnosis and became a beloved figure among Bulldog fans, even joining forces with the UGA top squad.

She also collaborated with St. Mary’s Hospital and Dr. Kathleen Jeffery, an expert in breast surgery, to share her story with the world and raise awareness of breast cancer.

“I am completely honored that they have reached out to me,” Hale said. “I had the opportunity to follow her and was amazed at her ability. She is a magician.

Her message to women consists of three principles: 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, the sooner the cancer is found, the better, and no matter who you are, no matter how well you feel, you’re not. . immune.

She’s not alone in the fight, either, as her son Kelee Ringo collaborated last fall with Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer, a charity that supports St. Mary’s Breast Health Services, which led Hale to work with them. Since its inception in 2004, the charity has raised more than $1.5 million in donations. Ringo has made a personal donation to the organization and plans to make more in the future as she progresses into the NFL.

Ringo has always had a close relationship with his mother. Even while battling cancer, she went out of her way to support Ringo by flying from Arizona to Athens to watch him compete in red and black. In 2021, she finally moved permanently to Athens and has been Ringo’s biggest supporter since she stepped foot in The Classic City.


She means a lot [to me]Ringo said. “She is my backbone. Just being able to have someone like that and knowing that she actually went through cancer. I feel like any adversity I face now is incomparable compared to that.”


Ringo started playing football in the third grade in a park across the street from his grandmother’s house, not knowing that one day he would be the best prospect cornerback in the country.

For Hale, his son’s development as a young man was heavily influenced by football. She believes that the sole purpose of sports for children at a young age is not to make it in the league, but rather to teach trustworthiness, dependability and leadership.

“He’s focused,” Hale said. “He loves what he does. I couldn’t be happier as a mom seeing him fulfill his dream. I dreamed of my son playing in the SEC when I had a kid, but I didn’t realize it was going to be all of this.”

Ringo has been leading the defense for Georgia, despite missing his debut season in 2020 due to a shoulder injury he sustained in the off-season.

He returned for the 2021 season determined to make up for lost time, finishing with 34 total stops, eight pass breakups, two interceptions and a touchdown, including a game-sealing 79-yard pick-6 against the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2022. Game of CFP National Championship.

“It was just surreal,” Hale said. “I have never seen so many people crying and falling on each other.”







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University of Georgia defensive back Kelee Ringo (5) runs the ball after an interception. The University of Georgia football team defeated Alabama 33-18 in the College Football National Championship on January 10, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo/Jessica Gratigny; @jgratphoto)


A positive look to the future

After everything Hale had been through, the start of 2022 seemed to bring about a major turning point in her life, with her son winning a national title and her becoming cancer-free just a month later.

“This is just divine intervention,” Hale said. “I feel like everything is falling apart. Everything is going like a snowball in the right direction, because it was already written”.

Hale said she’s using her voice to be an aggressive advocate for breast cancer awareness and share with the world how “cancer picked the wrong bitch.”

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