In San Diego County, six women a day are told they have breast cancer. While the disease may affect Chargers fans, sometimes it can be easy to forget that it affects those we see on the field as well.
Travis Benjamin has been personally impacted by breast cancer. It's affected three women on his mother's side of the family, which is why this week's Breast Cancer Awareness game means so much to him
"Breast cancer is hereditary in my family," Benjamin said. "No one has died from it, but it's affected my grandmother, mom and aunt. It started out when I was in high school; my grandma had it first. She was diagnosed two times with breast cancer. But God bless her, because she's beat it. As I got towards college, either my freshman or sophomore year, my mom was diagnosed with it, but she (and my aunt) beat it also."
Benjamin's grandmother's diagnoses came roughly three years apart. He said it was hard to see her go through the effects of treatment, but as a close-knit family, they did what they all could to normalize her treatment process.
"We all would cheer her up," he said. "Each and every time when she came home from chemotherapy, there always was a meal for her and we would just take care of her."
A few years after his grandmother was diagnosed, his mother got news that forever changed her life. However, that news wasn't immediately shared with Benjamin.
"They hid it from me at first because they didn't want it to be a distraction when I was playing football. Even though I was all the way at (the University of) Miami, they didn't want it to be a burden. But towards the end of the season, my mom told me that she had been going to treatment and chemotherapy but everything turned out to be fine."
Benjamin understood that his family "didn't want to put stress" on him and "because I was the only one in college, they just didn't want to put the burden on me."
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and on Sunday, the Chargers will pay tribute to those affected by the disease. Players will don pink gloves and cleats, among other accessories. But to Benjamin, pink is so much more than just a color.
"Every time I put on that pink attire, I'm always representing them knowing the things they have been through and the things that I have been through. Just being on that stage with the colors, my family appreciates that."
While Benjamin is in his fifth NFL season, he's certainly seen some fierce athletes. But having seen what his family has endured, the toughness of those women is second to none.
"Those women are very strong. I think they're the toughest of the tough because their bodies change and their lives change. But (now they get to) wake up each and every morning knowing that God has given them another day to live."