As the NFL continues to fight for Breast Cancer Awareness there are always wonderful stories of brave women that beat the disease and went on to live a healthy life, but there are also the unfortunate stories of families that lost a loved one. Stefanie Spielman is one of those women.
Stefanie,the wife of former NFL player and now ESPN College Football anaylist Chris Spielman, passed at the age of 42 due to the horrible disease. Stefanie was only 30 years old when she was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer during a self-exam. She underwent a mastectomy and was treated with chemotherapy. The disease would find its way back four more times since 1998 and eventually she would pass among her family.
Chris Spielman who played for the Detroit Lions at the time decided to give up football for a year to stay home with his wife and children. When his wife lost her hair because of chemotherapy treatments, he shaved his head.
“People say, ‘It’s a great thing that you’re doing,’ ” Chris Spielman said at the time. “I always say it would be a terrible thing if I didn’t.”
Spielman was signed by the Buffalo Bills in 1996 and 1997 and led the team in tackles in 1996. According to The Columbus Dispatch, Stefanie saw the situation as an opportunity to serve the community. “Tell them I have breast cancer,” she recalled telling her husband. “It may make one guy go home and say: ‘Honey, my favorite football player’s wife has breast cancer. You got to remember to make that mammogram appointment.’ ”
The mother of four was always thinking on her toes and was determined to use her high profile status to raise millions of dollars for the cause.
She established the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research after her initial diagnosis, considering it a life mission to raise money and awareness.
“I know there’s a reason God gave me breast cancer, and I’m supposed to do something with it,” she said that year.
Due to the familes strong ties to Ohio State, the former University where Chris played college football, more than $9.1 million has been raised for breast cancer patients and research at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Stefanie is just one example of the 39,000 women that pass away each year from the disease according to cancer.gov.
According to nationalbreastcancer.org, a woman should have a physical every year. If any unusual symptoms or changes in your breasts occur before your scheduled visit, do not hesitate to see the doctor immediately. Give yourself a breast self-exam at least once a month. Look for any changes in breast tissue, such as changes in size, a lump, dimpling or puckering of the breast, or a discharge from the nipple. If you discover a persistent lump in your breast or any changes in breast tissue, it is very important that you see a physician immediately. However, 8 out of 10 lumps are benign, or not cancerous.
For more information about breast cancer please visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation.