Drew Nowak was in his sophomore year at Central Michigan when he received a phone call from his father that made him feel helpless.
"I don't even know if you can describe the feeling," Nowak said. "It was so crazy."
With that phone call, Nowak, now the Seahawks' starting center, learned that his mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
"I have an older brother, but feeling like the man of the house, other than my dad, not being able to help my mom out," he added. "It's something that you can't just go and fix."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women in the United States, so chances are most of you reading this can relate to Nowak's story.
In the Seahawks' locker room alone, players like Alvin Bailey, Cooper Helfet, Ricardo Lockette, Marshawn Lynch, Paul Richardson, DeShawn Shead, assistant head coach Tom Cable, and more have family members with ties to the disease. Some, like Nowak, have been more fortunate than others when it comes to the ways in which breast cancer has affected their families.
"She didn't have to do any chemo or anything," Nowak recalled of his mother's situation. "She ended up getting a double mastectomy and she's been clear for like five or six years now."
Nowak's story is relevant because October marks breast cancer awareness month in the NFL. For the seventh straight season the League is teaming up with the American Cancer Society (ACS), A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives, which reminds women age 40 and older about the importance of having an annual mammogram. The NFL's efforts have raised more than $8 million for the ACS to date.
"Breast cancer is a cancer where early screening can be really important to the process and saving lives," said the Seahawks' kicker Hauschka, whose aunt beat breast cancer as a result of an early diagnosis. "So if anything, the awareness that these games bring, if it gets a few extra women to go get screened earlier than they normally would have, then it's definitely succeeding."
The Sea Gals donned pink for a photo shoot to support Breast Cancer Awareness during the month of October.