INTERVIEWS: NFL Players Discuss the Rare, Chronic, and Underserved Causes that Mean the Most to Them (Pt. 4)

Before you read on, make sure to check out:

  • Part 1: Green Bay Packers’ Shemar Jean-Charles and Los Angeles Chargers’ Storm Norton talk about the importance of Alzheimer’s disease awareness. 
  • Part 2New York Jets’ Tanzel Smart and his wife Jada talk about why they support the National Down Syndrome Society; Indianapolis Colts’ JoJo Domann talks about the Team Jack Foundation.
  • Part 3Pittsburgh Steelers’ Benny Snell Jr. shares why he wants to raise awareness for the 22 Oats Strong Foundation, and Indianapolis Colts’ Dayo Odeyingbo discusses Turner’s Heroes.  Down syndrome is a personal cause, and Indianapolis Colts’ JoJo Domann shares why he supports the Team Jack Foundation. 

Today, in Part 4, the final part of this series, we’ll be speaking to the Colts’ Deon Jackson and Ashton Dulin about oncological causes that are close to their heart. 

Indianapolis Colts Running Back Deon Jackson: National Breast Cancer Foundation

Growing up, Indianapolis Colts Running Back Deon Jackson was always close with his family. So it was difficult for him when his grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, his grandmother’s legacy and memory inspire him to continue raising awareness and advocating for those affected. He explains:

“I chose the National Breast Cancer Foundation because my grandmother lost her battle with breast cancer in 2015 when I was in the 11th grade. I think about her all the time and she’s definitely one of my inspirations for why I play football. I feel like it was an easy choice for My Cause My Cleats.”

What is Breast Cancer?

 Breast cancer is a form of cancer which begins in the cells of the breast tissue. While it can affect both men and women, it is the second most common form of cancer in women. In most cases, there is no known cause, though a mix of genetic and environmental factors are believed to play a role. Genetic mutations, such as BRCA mutations, play a role in up to 10% of cases. Additional risk factors include being older in age, being female, obesity, early menstruation or late menopause, alcohol use, and radiation exposure. Symptoms can include inverted nipples; a change in breast size, shape, or appearance; dimpling, peeling, scaling, crusting, flaking, or pitting of the breast skin; breast redness or tenderness; or abnormal nipple discharge. Treatment options can include surgery, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and supportive care.

About the National Breast Cancer Foundation

The National Breast Cancer Foundation was founded in 1991 by Janelle Hail, a breast cancer survivor. At the time of her diagnosis, there was little information available to assist her with making treatment and care decisions. Now, the National Breast Cancer Foundation aims to help women by inspiring hope to those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education, and support services. 

Indianapolis Colts Wide Receiver Ashton Dulin: National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation

Growing up, Ashton Dulin looked up to his grandfather as a mentor – and it didn’t hurt that they shared a distinct love for football. Dulin shares:

“He was a great pillar in my life and somebody that influenced me every day. He was one of my biggest fans growing up.”

But when Dulin was around twelve years old, he lost his grandfather to a battle with pancreatic cancer. So, when given the chance to choose a cause that was important to him, Dulin knew exactly what to choose: the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation. He explains:

“Just being able to give tribute to my grandfather was big for me. It’s great to have this cause and this foundation to bring awareness on a greater level.”

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer, as the name suggests, forms in the pancreas; this organ releases enzymes that aid in digestion and hormones that regulate blood sugar. The different forms of pancreatic cancer depend on where it develops. While pancreatic adenocarcinoma, the most common form, occurs in pancreatic duct cells, the rare pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors form in hormone-producing cells. The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown. However, doctors do know risk factors exist: smoking, a family history of pancreatic cancer, age (45+), being male, and obesity. 

Unfortunately, this cancer is often asymptomatic in early stages. Many people are not diagnosed until their cancer has progressed. When symptoms appear, they can include dark urine and pale stool, blood clots, fatigue, unintentional weight loss, newly onset or worsening diabetes, jaundice, appetite loss, and upper abdominal pain that spreads to the back. Treatment depends on the cancer’s stage and location, as well as the patient’s health. Potential treatment options include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, surgery, and supportive care. 

About the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation

The National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation (NPCF) is a nonprofit organization founded in 2009 that provides unwavering support to patients touched by pancreatic cancer. The NPCF works to provide a longer and better quality of life to people affected by pancreatic cancer.Through their volunteers, the NPCF provides an opportunity to care for those afflicted by this devastating disease. They also help family members to find support and community while they join the fight. Pancreatic cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the United States. There is no known cure.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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