CRESTVIEW — Kathy Combest is many things to many people. She's a wife, mother, sister, friend and coach — just to mention a few of her roles.
She's also a competitor, a fighter and a survivor.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer while coaching Baker School’s volleyball and girls basketball teams in August of 2007.
A year later, after several surgeries and treatments, Combest was declared cancer-free.
Five years later, Combest, now Crestview High School’s volleyball and girls basketball coach, is still cancer-free.
Combest and her Bulldog volleyball team will celebrate her continued good health with a Breast Cancer Awareness Night on Oct. 7, when Crestview hosts Freeport for a 6 p.m. varsity match.
"It's exciting for me because ... if you can make it for five years (cancer-free), you have a good chance (of remaining cancer free)," Combest said. "I'm not saying you won't get it again, but you have a better chance not to get it.
“I would like for all the players that played for me at Baker in basketball and volleyball, and all the players that have played for me here, and any friend that has helped out through the years, to be here."
The Holt Volunteer Fire Department, which comprises many of Combest's old Baker students, will be on hand to honor the coach by raising money with T-shirt sales and a donation jar.
The money raised that night will go to the Breast Clinic Charity Fund in Fort Walton Beach.
"They decided to raise money for breast cancer and they wanted to honor me and my five years of being cancer-free," Combest said. "And they let me pick the charity organization that I wanted. The one I wanted is here in Okaloosa County, in Fort Walton Beach.
"Dr. Sandra Hanson and The Breast Clinic Charity Fund is for women that don't have insurance. Because it is so expensive to have mammograms, sonograms and even biopsies.”
Hanson and Scotty Chestnut of the Holt Volunteer Fire Department will talk about charities that help those with breast cancer, Combest said.
Like so many people, Combest never thought she would have breast cancer. As a coach and former athlete she's always made it a point to stay in shape and eat healthy.
Combest — who continued coaching while battling cancer — said she thinks leading her teams helped her through the tough times.
"I think while I was going through that it gave me a focus point," she said. "People that can focus on something are better at what they do and they don't dwell on being sick.
"I know basketball and volleyball helped me do that at that time."
People battling breast cancer, breast cancer survivors and those who have lost loved ones to breast cancer will be recognized during Monday’s ceremony.
As much as it will be a night of breast cancer awareness, Combest also wants it to be a celebration of life.
"I just want to have the people that helped me go through what I went through to be here to celebrate my five years clean," she said.
WHAT: Breast Cancer Awareness Night
WHEN: 6 p.m. Oct. 7, when Crestview hosts Freeport for a varsity match.
WHERE: Crestview High School gym, 1250 N. Ferdon Blvd., Crestview.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated in the "Where" section that the game is at Jack Foster Stadium. The print edition included the correct information; the erroneous, extra detail was added during transfer to the web. We regret the error.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.