The San Francisco 49ers and the new Stanford Women's Cancer Center teamed up in the fight to beat breast cancer during the Week 5 game against the Buffalo Bills. As part of the NFL's Breast Cancer Awareness program, the 49ers gameday activities served to help spread the vital message of the Crucial Catch campaign.
"Every year, it is an honor to be able to bring awareness to the importance of early detection in prevention through the 49ers Breast Cancer Awareness activities and the NFL's messaging of 'A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives.' This year was particularly poignant when we found out that QB Alex Smith's mother-in-law had been diagnosed with breast cancer over the summer," said Joanne Pasternack, Director of Community Relations/49ers Foundation. "To bring light to the prevalence of this form of cancer, the 49ers decided to highlight how it has affected our own tight community with a video featuring Alex and his mother-in-law along with others in the 49ers family who have been touched by breast cancer – C Jonathan Goodwin, G Mike Iupati, OT Joe Staley, DL Coach Jim Tomsula, team advisor Dr. Harry Edwards, and Dustin Albertson from Ticket Sales along with 49ers Total Access Host and survivor Melissa Galvin and Season Ticket Holder and survivor Arabella Cortez. Shooting the video was emotional and seeing all of the brave women walk onto the field together holding hands was tremendously impactful."
During halftime, a video was played featuring 49ers with a personal connection to breast cancer while members of the 49ers family who have been affected by breast cancer took the field, along with other courageous women whose lives have been impacted by the disease.
"Thank God for life and also, for my son being able to come back and to play with the team, said Joyce Goodwin, mother of 49ers Center Jonathan Goodwin. "We've had a great year this past season and we're looking forward to an exciting season this year and Super Bowl bound here we come. I can't say enough for being a cancer survivor. It's just a blessing to still be here and be able to participate in the ceremony today."
The amazing women were ecstatic to take part in the halftime ceremony to bring awareness and they were met with rounds of applause from the audience who saluted their bravery. One of those incredible warriors, Kimberly Mullennix-Amdal, describes how vital it is to know your own body.
"This is my second time with breast cancer and this time it's a double mastectomy. I never found it in a mammogram. It was actually a lump the first time and then reconstruction surgery found it the second time," Mullennix-Amdal said. "So, you just have to know your body. You have to pay attention to your body, if anything changes. You need to be on top of it. It doesn't matter how old you are. There are two girls here who are very young who have it, too. So, it's a big, big deal. The beautiful part about it is once you have this disease, even though it's not 'curable' it is something that if you catch early enough, you're not going to die. That's why it's such a huge thing to survive it. It's an honor and I just want to raise awareness."
Pink was the color of the day, as everyone from fans to coaches to players all sported pink gear to show unity and support for those affected. Also pretty in pink, breast cancer survivor Becky Klein, who participated in the halftime ceremony, was excited to share in the game's festivities to recognize the importance of simply being aware.
"This game is great because of the collective effort to try and save lives," said cancer survivor Becky Klein. "We've had a lot of breast cancer in our family and it's a very dear to our hearts subject. So, if we can come out and participate in events like this and bring about awareness to increase survivorship, that's what we want to do."
Becky's 'breast cancer buddy' and 49ers season ticket holder, Arabella Cortez, shared how amazing it was to take part in the ceremony hand-in-hand with her fellow survivors.
"It's a great privilege to join my co-survivors for this day. This is my third time being a part of the 49ers walk on the field. So, I'm a little bit emotional, but I enjoy it," Cortez said.
The halftime ceremony concluded with a special presentation of a commemorative scarf to each woman by 49ers alumni including Steve Bono, Dennis Brown, Dan Bunz, Dwight Clark, Allan Kennedy, Guy McIntyre, Frank Nunley, Bubba Paris, Jesse Sapolu, Keena Turner, and Eric Wright.
Along with the thousands of fans who stayed seated during halftime to watch the ceremony, 49ers alumni Dennis Brown was deeply touched by the courageous survivors.
"This celebration to bring about awareness is pretty neat. I don't have anyone in my immediate family that's a survivor. But, being around this, this is my second year doing it, it's really great seeing the courage of these women," Brown said. "It's amazing how you take things for granted. My body's beat up from football, but these women have really survived something huge. It's amazing. And with these former 49ers being out there to honor them, it is clear that it means so much to the survivors and then the all the hugs, it's just cool. It's really cool."