During the month of October, the NFL and American Cancer Society join forces to intercept cancer in the league-wide Crucial Catch initiative.
The Chargers are doing their part this week in advance of the team's Crucial Catch game on Sunday.
The team is hosting numerous events to promote breast cancer awareness, a cause that is deeply personal to Susie Spanos, a survivor of the disease who is the wife of Chargers Controlling Owner and Chairman of the Board, Dean Spanos.
"October is breast cancer awareness month and it's huge," Spanos said. "I was diagnosed, and so our team has really been on the forefront of having mammograms for hundreds of people (and) spreading breast cancer awareness…. It's such a wonderful program, and I'm so proud of the Chargers and our partnership with Hoag Hospital."
The week kicked off on Tuesday when Spanos, LaDainian Tomlinson and Casey Hayward were among those who traded football gear for paint brushes as they participated in a painting class for Hoag Family Cancer Institute's Creative Expressions Class for Breast Cancer Survivors.
"Obviously, this is a great way for Hoag to connect with our community and really support a lot of individuals that have been adversely affected by cancer," mentioned Robert Braithwaite, President and CEO of Hoag Hospital. "For us to bring the Chargers to our community and really engage with them in supporting these women, that's a good day for Hoag, that's a great day for our community."
"It definitely means a lot to be able to come and support some survivors and even some people that actually have cancer right now," Hayward remarked. "I know these women definitely need all the support they can from men, from women, from everybody."
The program is special considering it provides patients and cancer survivors an outlet to relieve stress through creative expression in a healing environment. Hayward and Tomlinson know how important this is given how cancer has affected people close to them. They fully appreciated taking time out of their day to help those who need it most.
"I think it's very important to get your mind off it because most of the time, probably 95 percent of the time, 99 percent of the time you're thinking about it because you're going through the treatments," said Hayward. "Just to get your mind off of it definitely helps, but I think most people think (while) we're helping them, they're actually helping us. It definitely put a smile on my face to see all the women here, from their friends to their family members to themselves as well, to come and show them support and love."
"I think all we can do is support them as much as possible, whatever they need…to get their minds off of what they're going through," Tomlinson added. "This is so needed for them. It is a struggle. All of us are directly affected by someone with cancer, especially breast cancer. When you're faced with that problem, it's really hard to even talk about it because you realize, I guess from my personal experience and just recently going through this, I'm still kind of in shock of what my neighbor's going through because we are very close. Our families are close. It's hard for me to talk about it but this is just a part of helping them overcome the obstacles that they've got to face day in and day out."
Along with the painting event, the Chargers also hosted free clinical breast exams and screening mammograms with Susan G. Komen Orange County in Garden Grove. Additionally, the team is partnering with the American Cancer Society and the NFL on Saturday for the Crucial Catch Day to Intercept Cancer. The event will include free on-site mammogram screenings and colonoscopy fit kits in Panorama City.
The Chargers and the Chargers Community Foundation help build healthy communities for our region's youth. For more information, follow @ChargersCR on Twitter.
The Chargers kicked off their annual Crucial Catch campaign with a special Creative Expressions for Breast Cancer Survivors paint class at Hoag Family Cancer Institute.