Families often celebrate October’s crisp days and cooler nights by visiting pumpkin patches and sipping apple cider. But fall also brings on awareness, and it’s nice to see that pink is in the air. In addition to pink lighting up the buildings that dot Chicago’s skyline, stores are selling pink ribbon water bottles and pins. And if you’re anywhere near a television on Sundays, you’ll see that the NFL players are proudly wearing pink. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Chicago Bears Defensive End Corey Wooton spoke out about the importance of early detection along with breast cancer survivor and National Breast Cancer Foundation Founder Janelle Hail at an event held at Halas Hall sponsored by the Procter & Gamble Company.
The Best Defense Day of Action really shined a bright light on breast cancer. The purpose was to talk about how early detection is so important and how entire families come together and each person plays a different roll on the ‘family team’ to battle cancer.
“When one player is down, the rest of the team is impacted,” says Mr. Wooton, who lost his grandmother and two great aunts. And he remembers one of his aunts fondly, saying, “I was 16 years old and she always said I was a great athlete. She was struggling with cancer and unfortunately lost her battle but I am so grateful to have her in my life.”
The pro football star says his mother-in-law is also a survivor, and he and his wife are experiencing her survivorship as a family. “Now, women have a 98 percent survival rate in a 5 year period,” explains Mr. Wooten. “A lot has changed since my own family members experienced cancer.”
The Chicago Bear is also proud to wear pink as part of his uniform with the Bears for the month of October. “It’s amazing what the NFL has been able to do with awareness, and a lot of players wives, mothers, sisters and friends have in some way been touched by the disease,” he shares.
Janelle Hail – who lives in Frisco, Texas, and came to Chicago for this special awareness event – was diagnosed in 1980. Her husband and three sons each took a different roll while she was fighting her battle. “My sons were 3, 10 and 13 years old at the time and each of them handled it differently,” she says. “I had to learn how to get them involved at their own level.”
“My oldest was quiet and didn’t want to talk about it much but I knew he was scared, while my 10 year old was doing little tasks around the house that I would ask him to do to help him feel helpful. My youngest son was just three years old, and now my husband and three sons are all active in the foundation we started in their own way.”
Ms. Hail says early detection saved her life and she and her family are helping other women with the foundation. Some of the suggestions are to encourage women to schedule routine breast self-exams, clinical breast exams and mammograms.
“We founded the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), INC and partner with over 90 medical facilities in all 50 states to provide free mammograms and diagnostic breast care services to underserved women,” she says. “We also help with early detection plans and have an online support community. Since 2008, P&G has donated more than 2.1 million to the NBCF, which helps provide all of these services. We are now in our sixth year partnering with the P&G and we are so grateful for all of the help and services they have been able to provide to deserving women.”
The partnership with the NFL and the Chicago Bears is a wonderful start as well, so they can continue encouraging men to take care of their ‘family team’ by promoting early detection as the best defense against breast cancer.