Teen soccer player who battled cancer meets her hero Alex Morgan - KPTV - FOX 12

Teen soccer player who battled cancer meets her hero Alex Morgan

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Hailey finally getting to meet her hero Alex Morgan. Hailey finally getting to meet her hero Alex Morgan.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

FOX 12 met a young Portland Thorns fan in July, who traveled all the way from Texas to watch a soccer game and catch a glimpse of her favorite player, Alex Morgan.

16-year-old Hailey Cassell told FOX 12 Morgan was her inspiration while she battled cancer. She even brought a custom painting she hoped to get autographed.

In July, FOX 12 learned about Hailey's amazing story and how she looks up to Alex Morgan.

"It was April when I was diagnosed, but in December the year before that my friend noticed I had a lump under my chin. She felt it and asked 'why is there a lump under your chin?' And I didn't really notice it, but then began to get really self-conscious about it," said Hailey.

Countless tests, lots of blood work and one major surgery later, Hailey learned she had Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"When I was diagnosed, I was out of the game."

Hailey took cancer as a personal challenge to rise above, just like with her school work and years of pushing herself on the soccer field.

"No matter what you go through, keep your head up. Things get hard but if you let it get to you and you just keep getting down on yourself, and get pitiful about it, you're not going to get anything out of it that you can learn from, that other people can learn from."

And it's that kind of mindset that drew Hailey to another strong-willed woman for inspiration during the tough times.

"Even after I lost my hair, I felt not as pretty as I used to be. Alex, she's a gorgeous player, she's just everything. It made me feel that it doesn't matter how you look. Just to be playing on the field."

This weekend Hailey and her mom Robyn traveled back to Portland and spent Saturday morning watching the Thorns practice. She even brought back the painting waiting to have it signed.

"I never thought I would get it signed, but here we are!"

Morgan signed the painting and wrote a special note that said: 'To Hailey, keep working hard, being strong, and loving the game.'

"It's interesting how she said I was waving to her and stuff, because I really try to find girls in the crowd and stuff. It's really awesome to be able to meet with her again and have her tell her story," said Morgan.

A story that most people don't tell in a lifetime, told by a 16-year-old was enough to inspire even a World Cup Champion.

"It's inspiring that girls you know, never give up. They're so committed to soccer, and to academics, and to continue living life to the fullest, and you see that through Hailey. That's really great and I feel fortunate to be able to meet her today," said Morgan.

Hailey is now entering into her junior year of high school cancer free, and she's going to have one of the coolest summer break stories to tell.

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