This is just unbelievable. Great story from The Chronicle.

Duke cheers must have drowned out sighs of relief when Christie McDonald nailed a header past Marquette’s goalkeeper on a sunny afternoon Sept. 17.

Congratulating the smiling sophomore with a flurry of hugs and high fives, the Blue Devils gathered around the girl that some people thought would never have the chance to score a goal again, let alone with her head.

Anyone in Koskinen Stadium that day who knew McDonald personally also knew that just four months earlier she was lying in a hospital bed in Los Angeles, surrounded by an altogether different kind of team.

Diagnosed with a brain tumor at the end of April, McDonald underwent surgery May 12 to remove a sticky, 1.5-centimeter lump from the left side of her brain.

After four hours of surgery, the benign tumor was removed. But because of necessary surgical procedures, so were McDonald’s auditory and balance nerves. At 19 years old, the varsity athlete was without a sense of balance and the ability to hear in her left ear. But that didn’t stop her from working to get back on the field.

McDonald had felt that way all along-get the tumor removed and get back to soccer. And after spending the second summer session on campus training to regain her strength and coordination, that’s exactly what she did-the sophomore started Duke’s opener against St. Louis and has played in every game on the schedule so far.

“It was really hard for me to get back, harder than I was expecting,” McDonald said. “Everything I had gone through was to play this season, so it was just one of the most amazing feelings to be back with my team and be able to play again. It was great.”

Go read the whole thing. You won’t regret it.

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