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NFL Goes Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month


“A Crucial Catch” Campaign

Sunday’s televised sports, dominated by the National Football League, has changed its tone for October. The gridiron green remains the same, but the muscled players and their coaches now are peppered in pink.

For the entire month, professionals on field, as well as the usually black-and-white-only referees, will celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month by donning the community-awareness movement’s signature color.

The NFL campaign, called “A Crucial Catch,” focuses on the importance of annual mammograms for women age 40 and older.

Green Bay Packers v Baltimore Ravens

“The NFL, its clubs, players, the NFL Players Association and the American Cancer Society are committed to saving lives from breast cancer, and addressing the unequal burden of cancer in underserved communities,” according to the NFL initiative.

The campaign is taking place in conjunction with the American Cancer Society. The pink apparel, equipment, gloves and other items worn during games will be auctioned off by the NFL, with proceeds benefiting the society’s Community Health Advocates implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment and Equity (CHANGE) program. The program funds grants that bring free and / or low-cost screenings to communities and educate women about the benefits of early detection. The 2014 screenings will take place in all 32 of the NFL’s team markets Oct. 25.

A Missouri woman said she owes her life to the campaign. On Oct. 6, 2013, Beth Steele attended a Patriots-Bengals game in Cincinnati with husband T.J. and couldn’t miss the girly glow on the grass coming from cleats, coins, hats, towels and more.

“I thought of that as a marketing scheme,” Steele, a married mother of four, said on NBC’s Today. “But something about all the pink, it did make me go home that night and do a self-breast exam.”

The 36-year-old felt a lump and immediately made an appointment for a mammogram.

Steele told Today, “The radiologist said, ‘You have massive and aggressive breast cancer. You need to be seen immediately.’ I didn’t even check out with the nursing staff, I just walked down three flights of stairs where T.J. was sitting in the minivan, walked around the car so the kids couldn’t see me, and literally laid on the ground and just started sobbing.”

After undergoing surgery, her doctor gave her an excellent prognosis.

“If the Patriots had been in town a different month that year, I would not have found my breast cancer,” Steele said. “I would not have survived.”

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