On May 12, team TUFF ® [Temple University Football Family] will participate in the 2013 Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure. The four team captains—Cathy Bongiovi, Evan Regas, Julie Rhule, and Matt Rhule—have shared their stories why this cause is so important. This is the finally entry in the series.
My Mom—Gloria Rhule
by Matt Rhule
“What are you going to think about?” She looked puzzled. “What are you going to think about while you are undergoing treatment?”
My mother Gloria had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and was beginning her battle against the disease. Six weeks after receiving a clean mammogram, she undertook a self-exam and felt a lump. She went to the doctor, went to the specialist, ended up at Johns Hopkins and was left with the reality that she was now battling breast cancer.
When she told me, she was strong – I wasn't. It didn't make sense. It wasn't right. My mother never smoked, never drank; she exercised and ate right.
I remember sobbing when she told me. Not because I was afraid of the future, but because I was mad that my mom had to undertake this battle.
“What are you going to think about?” I asked.
She said she was going to think about rocking her soon-to-be born first grandchild to sleep. As I sit here today, nine years later, my mother spends most days here with us rocking her second grandbaby to sleep.
My mother is a survivor of breast cancer because of research and education. It was education that caused my mother to do a self-exam even after a clean mammogram. It was education that spurred her to go to the doctor and to recognize something was wrong; that this wasn't something she should dismiss. Her early detection led to her recovery. It was research that led to the treatments that left her cancer-free.
While at Johns Hopkins the doctor said to her in passing “Had this been 10 years ago, you probably would not have survived.”
There is amazing research being done that is saving the people we love. Someone's research, someone's fundraising efforts saved my mother, and so now I walk to hopefully save others.
In the past year at Temple I have seen two strong young men on the football team lose their mothers to cancer; one to breast cancer and one to another form. The year has seen my wife and I bury her beloved mother who passed away after a courageous battle against breast cancer in which she, too, fought to see her grandson Bryant grow up. The year has shown me why efforts to help fundraising for education, research, and screening are vital.
The year has reminded me why I cherish participating in the Komen Race. I sobbed when my mother told me she had cancer for so many reasons, but mostly because I loved her so much and did not have any way I could help. I couldn't protect her. I couldn't save her – I was helpless.
When I went to the Komen Race that year with Temple, I felt like a victim and left empowered. The Komen Race is about celebration. It's about claiming victory over the disease. Seeing those who have fought and beaten the disease gave me hope. Seeing those who were still fighting made me empathize. Seeing those who ran for those they had loved and lost made me cherish each day with both my mothers even more, and made me be determined to do anything I could to fight this disease moving forward. On Sunday, May 12, I run for Gloria.
* * *
To make a donation, visit our team TUFF page: