Breast cancer is something that affects nearly everyone in America. Whether its something youve gone through personally or known a family member or friend who went through it, it more than likely hits home.
Its no different in the Minnesota Lynx locker room. Taj McWilliams-Franklins mother had a breast cancer scare about 10 years ago, Monica Wrights paternal grandmother and maternal great grandmother each battled breast cancer and assistant coach Shelley Patterson lost her aunt to breast cancer 12 years ago.
So as the Lynx and the WNBA open up Breast Health Awareness Week on Sunday with their home game against the Tulsa Shock, team members know how important it is to raise awareness and funds in hopes of finding a cure and helping others in the future.
It affects everybody, Wright said. And Im sure women worldwide have that in the back of their minds. You have to appreciate the people who are raising awareness for this because anybody can be affected by this. You never know what could happen, and Im all for it. I appreciate all those survivors out there who are not afraid to tell their stories and give others hope.
The Lynx will wear commemorative jerseys during their 6 p.m. home game on Sunday against the Shock in honor of the teams Breast Health Awareness Week, presented by Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation. This year the jerseys will have a different lookthe uniforms will be white with pink lettering and numbers.
For 14 years, the program has focused on generating awareness and educating women about breast cancer in addition to raising funds for the initiative. During that time, the WNBA and its teams have raised more than $2 million to aid in the fight against breast cancer.
McWilliams-Franklin said those two facets of BHA Week are the most important: Bringing to light the importance of early detection and raising money to help fund research.
She said since her mothers battle with breast cancer, shes seen great strides in helping people understand the importance of early detection.
Ive seen quite a bit of changes, McWilliams-Franklin said. Not only are there more charities now that deal with the awareness of it, but I watch TV and the Cancer [Treatment] Centers of AmericaI dont remember commercials about cancer centers 10 years ago. Its amazing to me that now I can watch commercials on TV about it. And people have help, people have outlets, people know there are certain things they can do.
For the Lynx organization, Sundays game is the first piece of BHA Weeks festivities. On Thursday, Aug. 23, the Lynx will host their fourth annual Catwalk for a Cure presented by C.H. Robinson at the Mall of America. The team will put on a fashion show from 5-8 p.m., which also includes a silent auction with sports memorabilia, gift certificates and unique experiences. All proceeds will benefit the Lynx Foundation.
I know raising money to help with the cure is major, Patterson said. We all want to find a cure for breast cancer. Its probably taken the lives of somebody we know, probably every one of us on our team. Its a serious cause and something I am very aware of and is close to my heart.
Patterson said its important for everyone to stay up to date with their checkups, even at a young age. She said the Lynx players need to understand all females need to be educated about breast cancer, because it can happen at any time.
Its funny because the older you get the more you think about it, but it starts at this age, Patterson said. It starts with these young players understanding it doesnt discriminate. You could be 21 and develop breast cancer. Being checked, if it runs in the family its something you need to be aware of. Even at a young age, start getting it checked.
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