campaign for breast cancer awareness
Monday marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Deshea Townsend mother, Lena. "Let look," he said as he rolled up the left sleeve of his practice undershirt to check the date on his forearm tattoo, a memorial framed in ink by angel wings: RIP, LT, 112639, 92899. "Yep. It was 10 years ago."
Shiny, florescentpinktrimmed football shoes with silver cleats sit in the next locker for his buddy Hines Ward to wear tonight. Similarly toned shoes, most of them completely pink with white or black trim, also will be worn by Steelers teammates Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes, Ryan Clark, Lawrence Timmons, Willie Gay and a host of other players around the National Football League. game against San Diego in Heinz Field. Antonio Smith Jersey Ribbon pins and whiteandblack Steelers ballcaps with pinklined bills will be donned by coaches along the home sideline.
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month started Thursday across America, and it formally kicks off today for the NFL across its internationally televised stage.
But it stirred deep inside Steelers such as Max Starks, Tony Hills, Dennis Dixon and Mr. Townsend long before.
"Even though I have that with me every time I go on the field, it just not the pink gloves or pink shoes for me," said Mr. Townsend, a cornerbacksafety whose mother hid her diagnosis from her family for too long, making education a deeply personal point of emphasis for him. One of his two sisters, LaMeisha, from the family hometown of Batesville, Miss., later discovered she also had breast cancer, but early detection enabled her to beat it. "It an everyday thing that I have to deal with."
For Mr. Dixon, the Steelers third string quarterback, it a similar tale. His mother, Jueretta, kept her diagnosis from him and sister Danitra, 19 and 16 at the time. He also has a tattoo to commemorate his mother, a portrait of her on his right, throwing shoulder.
"I got that two or three days after, after that happened. I was scared about tattoos. This is my first and only. I knew it was going to hurt, but I knew it was going to hurt for a good reason, a good cause."
For Mr. Hills, a reserve offensive tackle, a private visit with cancer patients Friday at MageeWomens Hospital and a monthlong slate of events constitute reminders. Every time he settles into his ritual Saturday morning breakfast, or every time a certain television show comes up, he thinks back to the grandmother, Lillian Lemons, who died of breast cancer when he was 6.
"A big box of Garrett Graham Black Jersey Cream of Wheat every time I eat it, I think of her," Mr. Hills said, smiling at the memory.
"She used to cook Cream of Wheat all the time in the morning, and we watch Rider that was her favorite show. So every time I see that show, I kind of laugh."
Mr. Starks, the Steelers starting left tackle, is www.shoptexansnfljerseys.com/Black+Garrett+Graham+Jersey one of the fortunate ones. His mother, Elleanor, is a 17year survivor of the disease.
He can laugh with her, shoot a Campbell Chunky Soup commercial with her and be a cohost with her at their fifth annual Hot Pink Pittsburgh event Oct. 13 at the Byham Theater to raise funds for breast and cervicalcancer screening for uninsured women around Western Pennsylvania.
"It means a lot; I can do something with my mom to kind of raise awareness and celebrate what she done, what she accomplished, by never giving up and always fighting," Mr. Starks said.
"The most important thing is, you want to get awareness out there. You never want a person to think that they above having this happen to them or striking their family. The reality is, it will strike one in three families in a number of different ways. We all have either a mother, a sister, a daughter, a niece, somebody that a woman in your life and they could very easily be affected by it."
More than a ribbon
Much the same as Major League Baseball June campaign to raise money for and awareness about prostate cancer, the NFL has aligned its ranks in recent years for, among others, the charity of breast cancer research and awareness. Coaches wore ribbon pins, players used pink towels on the sidelines, parts of fields were painted pink, and that about summarized their gameday display of support previously.
Today, breast cancer honorary color will be all the rage amid this machomale domain.
They will start with pink coins for the coin toss and kick off a ball with a large pinkribbon imprint. Look to the referees getups, the captain "C on the jerseys of Steelers linebacker James Farrior and five colleagues, or the shoes worn by such stars as Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a product of the University of Pittsburgh, Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre, a few Steelers and more across the league. Then maybe watch a game finish with a kick through a goalpost padded in bright pink.
Pretty in pink, indeed. www.shoptexansnfljerseys.com/Black+Antonio+Smith+Jersey Tshirts and other themed products also are planned for sale through the NFL Web site.
For Willie Parker, the Steelers starting halfback hobbled by a painful turf toe, his pink shoes created by Nike the same company that provides shoes to Mr. Roethlisberger and Mr. Ward came at a bad time: He won play tonight.
For tight end Heath Miller, the cleats that arrived Thursday don fit properly he prefers an outofproduction style. and don live up to the muted billing by his apparelline representative.
"The guy from Reebok said, know you don like flashy things, so we just put some subtle stripes on them, " Mr. Miller said, peering at allpink shoes, far more vibrant than the pinktoed and pinksoled white ones worn by his Nikesponsored teammates. "Then I opened the box. . I have to call him back to have him define for me."
Reebokissue cleats were placed Friday into the gameday bags of Mr. Holmes, a receiver, Mr. Clark, a safety, and Mr. Gay, a cornerback, while Mr. Timmons, a linebacker, was preparing to wear a pair from adidas.
"Do we like them? Probably not," Mr. Ward said, with a chuckle, after testing his pair in Wednesday practice. "But I think it good that the players are teaming up for a great cause. Some of these players on our team are affected."
For years, his locker has been next to Mr. Townsend the other longesttenured Steelers player still on the roster and the subject of Lena Townsend rarely if ever gets mentioned among these close teammates and friends, not even this week.
"This is actually the first year for the pink gloves and the pink shoes they don match the uniform, but they fit the cause," Mr. Townsend said. "I loved to see when the NCAA women [basketball teams] had the pink uniforms on a couple of times last year. I thought that was really special. I think it going to be great for the NFL to get involved, especially for guys who have had loved ones lost to cancer."The battle against breast cancer is being won in small increments: The rate of deaths among women has declined 2 percent yearly since 1990, according to an American Cancer Society report.
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