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McAfee Knob, the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail

Ah 2020. At this point it feels cliche to observe that the past year has been challenging for everyone — but still, it has. For me the year began with social distancing — as necessitated by the early days of stem cell transplant recovery — only to see the world join in on the trend right as I was being released from my 100 day post transplant quarantine.

If my entire experience with cancer has taught me one thing, it’s that life can’t be taken for granted. Thus whatever challenges we encounter, it’s still important to find and appreciate the…


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Roxanne Riley, 2008–2020

Let’s start with good news. My PET scan this month showed no evidence of recurrent or residual disease. Eight months out from treatment I’m in remission and feeling way stronger than I had ever hoped. I’m beginning the process of searching for jobs and moving on with my life. By every measure I’m doing great.

That’s the good news.

The not so good news is we had to say goodbye to our sweet cat Roxanne today. She developed rapidly progressive kidney failure in the last couple weeks, and despite initially improving following several days of hospitalization and IV fluids, she…


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In psychology there’s a phenomenon called the fading affect bias. It describes the way that the emotions tied to negative memories tend to fade more quickly than those tied to positive memories. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the negative memories are wiped from our brains, but that the intensity of the negative emotions associated with them prove more fleeting in comparison with positive emotions associated with more pleasant memories…

In the early hours of June 24th 2019, exactly one year ago to the day, I was diagnosed with recurrent Hodgkin Lymphoma. …


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Sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains from Humpback Rock. Before the parkway shut down I woke up before dawn on a Saturday morning and hiked the steep mile long trail up to the overlook.

In the days following my diagnosis of recurrent Hodgkin Lymphoma last June, my thoughts slowly shifted from the initial “Am I going to die?” response to a different question — “Will things ever be normal again?”

Naturally, I was still worried about the immediate threat of both cancer and stem cell transplant. But what really led my thoughts to dark places was the concern that perhaps even if I made it through my daunting course of treatment I’d emerge unable to do many of the things I loved — hiking, jogging, playing basketball, etc. …


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It’s crazy we’ve already reached what would have been championship monday of the 2020 NCAA tournament. It would have been a strange March for Carolina fans either way as the Tar Heels wouldn’t have been playing in the NCAA Tournament or NIT. Nevertheless, the complete absence of basketball has been jarring.

It hasn’t been the same as filling out brackets, participating in elimination pools, and flipping between CBS, TNT, TBS, and TruTV, but going back through footage/highlights of old North Carolina Tournament games has been a fun way to get at least a small fix of basketball and distract myself…


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UNC has made more Final Fours than any other program, having advanced to the last weekend of the NCAA tournament 20 times. Since every final four appearance is memorable in its own right, I’ll include all of those for which highlights or complete game footage exists.

2017 vs Oregon

As much as I love Joel Berry, Kennedy Meeks was robbed of Final Four Most Outstanding Player. Meeks’ 25 point, 14 rebound effort against Oregon was capped off with a potentially game saving offensive rebound off of Berry’s missed free throw, robbing the Ducks of any chance for a game winning buzzer beater.

Highlights

2016 vs Syracuse


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Is anyone reading these? Have people moved on past missing march madness to just a constant level of existential anxiety about COVID?

I don’t know. But going back through memorable UNC tournament games and compiling them has been fun, so I’m gonna chug right along. So here we go with the Elite Eight

2017 vs Kentucky

You know the final moments. Malik Monk’s absurd, heavily guarded three point attempt that somehow went in followed by Theo Pinson rushing down the court and dishing to Maye for the game winner. But upon rewatch other moments stand out. Stillman White — five years after starting…


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Credit: Getty Images

Now things are getting good. UNC has made the sweet 16 a whopping 34 times in their history, second only to Kentucky’s 44 sweet 16 appearances. This obviously skews to recent games with highlights on YouTube, but there’s no shortage of memorable sweet 16 moments.

2017 vs Butler

Outside of a first round romp against Texas Southern, North Carolina’s sweet sixteen victory over Butler was the least dramatic matchup of their 2017 title run. While Butler threatened to make things interesting a couple times late, the Tar Heels were able to keep the Bulldogs at arm’s length en route to a 92–80 victory…


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Credit: Bob Rosato, Getty Images

Apologies for the delay. You’d think it would be easy to get a blog post finished on time in this moment of social distancing and #stayathome, but alas it’s Sunday night and I’m just finishing what I meant to have done on Saturday morning.

2017 vs Arkansas

There was a moment — before Luke Maye’s shot, before Oregon forgot to box out on free throws, before Kennedy Meeks blocked Nigel Williams-Goss — where UNC’s 2017 title bid seemed dead in the water. After seemingly taking control of the game with a 15 point lead in the first half, everything started to go wrong…


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Image Credit: SI

UNC isn’t playing in the NCAA tournament this year. I’ve been prepared for that possibility ever since UNC managed to blow a late double digit lead to Clemson in the Dean Dome, ending the Tigers’ seemingly eternal winless streak in Chapel Hill. The Syracuse Orange placed the final nail in Carolina’s coffin with an unceremonious beatdown of the Tar Heels last Wednesday in Greensboro.

What I wasn’t prepared for was there not being an NCAA tournament at all. While Syracuse continued to extend their lead late Wednesday night, a surreal cascade events was unfolding in the sports world as the…

John Tobben

Radiology fellow in Charlottesville, VA. From time to time write about sports, TV, and whatever else catches my interest. @DrJohnTobben

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