Getting more than they gave

Posted Dec 25, 2011

A recent visit to cancer patients at the University of Washington Medical Center turned into a surprising and life-changing experience for the Seahawks' Breno Giacomini and Golden Tate.

Breno Giacomini and Golden Tate made a recent trip to University of Washington Medical Center, thinking they could bring some holiday joy to the cancer patients.

Then they met Susan, who gave the Seahawks’ right tackle and wide receiver a lesson in how to handle anything life might throw at you.

“It was eye-opening, and a reality check,” Giacomini said. “Susan told us, ‘You guys can go attack your opponents, and I can’t see mine.’

“When she said that, it was like, ‘Oh man.’ That really hit deep.”

Like many patients who are dealing with cancer, Susan also impressed Giacomini and Tate with how upbeat she was about her situation.

“She was in a great mood,” Giacomini said. “That was a good thing for me. I really enjoyed doing that.”

The Captains’ Blitz visit to the UW Medical Center was just one of the things Seahawks players did during the holiday season. On the same day Giacomini, Tate, cornerback Brandon Browner and defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove were spending time with adult patients, wide receivers Ben Obomanu and Deon Butler, tight end John Carlson and defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Clinton McDonald visited patients at Seattle’s Children Hospital.

Among the other activities, running backs Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch and cornerback Marcus Trufant held a toy drive for Seattle Children’s Hospital; and the team’s annual Toys for Tots drive collected 1,500 toys and $7,786 at the Dec. 1 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

As important as those functions were, the lasting impact of Giacomini’s and Tate’s encounter with Susan was the stuff of the true Christmas spirit, as they left with much more than they intended to give.

“I’ve done stuff in the community before, and I liked doing it,” Giacomini said. “I’d never done anything like that before, but I’ll do it again. After meeting Susan and the other patients, I’ll probably do it for the rest of my career because they were just so happy to see us.

“It was incredible. That was a real life-changing moment right there.”

Tate also was impressed by the experience, and even had a difficult time articulating just how much of an impact meeting the patients – and especially Susan – had on him.

“One of the first things she said was, ‘I’m not fighting cancer, I’m living with cancer,’ ” Tate said. “That makes you stop and think, because look what she’s going through and look at everything we have. All of a sudden, any problem I might have doesn’t seem so significant.”

Tate paused and shook his head before adding, “She’s an amazing woman. That was an amazing day. I’ll never forget it, or her.”