On Sunday, Jeff and Will are going to be among 44 cancer survivors holding the U.S. flag when the Houston Texans host the New England Patriots for Pink Ribbon Day presented by Kroger.
As a Texans season ticket member, Jeff was invited to bring a guest with him on the field. He chose his close friend Will.
The two became lifelong friends after meeting each other in 2013, both being treated at MD Anderson for an aggressive form of brain cancer. Jeff, diagnosed with glioblastoma (GBM) Grade 4 brain cancer in 2008, has a wife and three daughters. Will, with the same diagnosis, is married with two daughters. They provide each other with a support system, and although the doctors have given them all the statistics, they are confident in a long survival.
Here are stories from three of the 44 Texans season ticket members, who were cancer survivors or affected by cancer, also taking the field Sunday for the flag ceremony.
Palmira, known by her family as the "Breast Cancer Warrior," was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985 at 46.
During the mid-1980s, Palmira battled year after year with breast cancer. Presumed to be an isolated case, it began in the right breast, and she underwent a partial mastectomy. A year later, just two weeks after a clean mammogram, she felt a spiky lump in her left breast. The oncologist told her it was a different tumor that had not metastasized from one breast to the other. She would undergo more chemotherapy.
Two years later, after numerous treatments and thorough monitoring, Palmira worked up the courage to have reconstructive breast surgery. On the morning of what was supposed to be one of the most exciting days of her life, a routine chest X-ray detected a small mass on her lung. She would need a lung biopsy. The reconstructive surgery was cancelled. The lung biopsy results revealed that the mass was indeed cancer.
Over the next 18 months, Palmira again underwent aggressive treatment. The treatment was effectively shrinking the tumor on her lung, and she had numerous follow-up appointments with the oncologist checking her every three months. Things were looking great until she received another jab when her gynecologist detected ovarian cancer.
Today, Palmira is 82 years old and as her daughter says, "Having the time of her life. She's always been a positive person. She has taught me that no matter how hard it is, you keep your chin up and pray."
In April 2011, during a self-exam, 38-year-old Elizabeth found a lump in her breast. After seeing numerous doctors and undergoing countless tests, results confirmed that Schindler had estrogen-positive breast cancer that had also spread to her lymph nodes.
She underwent a double mastectomy in April of the same year and did six months of intravenous chemotherapy, among other treatments. Elizabeth started a chemotherapy pill in October 2011. A decade later, on 10-10-2021, Schindler completed all chemo drugs and is now ten years' cancer-free.
Dewey has been battling stage 4 lung cancer for the past two years. The 67-year-old is raising his 12-year-old son Daniel, adopted at the age of four. Both Dewey and Daniel will be at the Texans game on Sunday.
"I am blessed and would consider this an honor," Miles said.
A few days after celebrating her 65th birthday, Mary was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2015. Through amazing treatment from an outstanding staff at MD Anderson, Mary was able to beat breast cancer! She attributes her successful fight against cancer from all the support of family and friends along with her faith in God. She continues to live life to the fullest with her husband and spending time with her two daughters and her grandchildren. Mary will be holding the flag on Sunday with her daughter at the game.
"These are the kind of amazing experiences that I expected and am grateful for as a season ticket holder," Shelby, Mary's son-in-law said.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month – an important reminder for everyone in your life. The experts at Houston Methodist Cancer Center encourage women to stay on top of their annual mammograms, because when detected early, breast cancer is easier to treat. Click here to learn more.
The Homefield Advantage Captain for Sunday's Pink Ribbon Game will be Elizabeth Weiss. She's a proud breast cancer survivor and will celebrate being cancer-free by ringing a bell on the field with her family, friends and Texans fans. Houston Texans Co-Founder Janice McNair is also a breast cancer survivor, and she'll be the Coin Toss Captain for the game. At the half, the 2021 Houston Texans Cheerleaders All-Stars will have a special Pink Ribbon Day performance.
To honor those who have fought or are currently fighting cancer, TORO has created a special Pink Ribbon Day flag that will be used throughout Sunday's game. The flag is adorned by the names of individuals who have fought any form of cancer and were submitted by Texans teammates along with others who were submitted on social media earlier this season.
For the 13th consecutive year, the NFL and the American Cancer Society (ACS) are working together to support the fight against cancer through "Crucial Catch: Intercept Cancer." Crucial Catch encourages people to catch cancer early, when it may be easier to treat. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, some cancer screenings declined by 90%. Through Crucial Catch, the NFL and ACS are allocating resources dedicated to safely restarting cancer screenings in communities with the most need. For more information on Crucial Catch and resources for getting screened, visit www.NFL.com/CrucialCatch.
Kickoff for Sunday's Pink Ribbon Day presented by Kroger against the New England Patriots is set for noon CT at NRG Stadium. Click here for tickets.
The McNair family, TORO and Texans Cheerleaders delivered letters of encouragement and welcome kits to the Hope Lodge on Founder's Day. Hope Lodge Houston, will provide free lodging and support for those traveling to the Houston area for cancer treatment, is the largest facility of its kind in the U.S. The 64-suite facility will be open year-round and include a shared kitchen, dining spaces, a pantry, daily linen service and patient laundry facilities, as well as a library and computer access. Support groups and social activities will also be available for residents.