One in eight women will be told she has breast cancer in her lifetime.
Jahleel Addae knows exactly how much that diagnosis can affect a family.
Five years ago, during Addae’s rookie season, he learned his mother had breast cancer. Now cancer free, she – along with Travis Benjamin’s mother and grandmother, also breast cancer survivors – will be firing the canon to open the Chargers’ Crucial Catch game this Sunday.
“It means everything (for her to do this),” Addae said. “I’ve seen it affect my family personally. It takes a toll on the family as a whole. My mom was strong, she stayed true to her beliefs and stayed prayed up and she fought it. I went to chemo with her a few times. I’ve seen her be a true superhero and fight a battle that most people unfortunately were not able to fight and beat. So, it’s everything to play for this organization that I play for, to play for such a business that I play for in the NFL that’s putting this on for Sunday’s game and allowing my mom to be a part of it, and allow her to relive it as an accomplishment. It’s awesome.”
Throughout the week, the Chargers have been kicking off their campaign to intercept cancer, starting with Community Tuesday, where team members attended a creative expressions art class with breast cancer survivors at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach.
Since 2009, the NFL and the 32 club teams have raised more than $18.5 million for cancer research in partnership with the American Cancer Society. Originally focused on breast cancer awareness, the Crucial Catch campaign has been expanded to include awareness for multiple types of cancer including colon and cervical. The Chargers continue to spotlight breast cancer awareness due to the impact the disease has had on the Spanos family as well as the players’ loved ones.
For Sunday’s matchup, there will be another color amongst the classic powder blues. The Bolts will be donning pink gloves and cleats to honor those who have been affected by breast cancer – an impactful moment for Addae.
“I get to represent something that my mom battled, something that my mom beat, and I’m looking forward to it,” he remarked.
Known by the nickname “Hitman,” Addae is clearly a tough player as he makes game-changing tackles on the field. He attributes that toughness to his mom. He continues to gain inspiration from her courage and perseverance during her past battle, and as he takes the field for Sunday’s special game, she’ll be at the top of his mind.
“The funny thing about it is I get my toughness from her,” Addae said. “A lot of people say I look like my mom, I act like my mom. When she was going through it, she was the toughest soldier. There was never one time you’d see her down (or) one time you’d see her out, and that’s a lot of motivation for me being her son. If she can get through that, then anything that I go through that’s minor whether it be in the business or it be in the personal life, I can get through it as well.”