Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty
August 23, 2011 05:00 PM

Pat Summitt, one of the most successful basketball coaches in college history, announced she was diagnosed with early onset dementia linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Summitt, 59, who has led the University of Tennessee women’s team to eight national championships, says she’ll continue to serve as head coach of the Lady Vols while undergoing treatment that includes medication and mental exercises.

“Obviously, I realize I may have some limitations with this condition since there will be some good days and some bad days,” she says in a video message. “For that reason I will be relying on my outstanding coaching staff like never before.”

Summitt says that after last season she “addressed some ongoing concerns regarding my health” and received the diagnosis earlier this summer at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

MORE INFO: 25 Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

She initially reacted with anger and denial, she tells the Knoxville News Sentinel, to news she would be facing a progressive condition that could impair memory, thinking, language, judgment and behavior.

But she is now determined to move forward.

“There’s not going to be any pity party,” she tells the News Sentinel, “and I’ll make sure of that.”

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