Written by Brett Bedard, Vs. Cancer Campaign Manager and North Carolina Tar Heels Men’s Lacrosse Alum
Cancer has been a part of me since my earliest memories. It changed the course of my life.
When I was a freshman lacrosse player at the University of North Carolina, Coach Breschi brought us in after practice and introduced a man named Chase Jones. He passionately shared his story and the Vs. Cancer mission. I immediately fell in love with the organization. There were two aspects of the process that really hit home for me – the team hospital visits and the symbolic head shaving. Four years later, I’ve joined the Vs. Cancer team and gained a new perspective.
As a child, I was diagnosed with cancer and sent to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C. for my chemotherapy. It was a particularly dark time for me and my parents, but a professional football team transformed this experience into a positive memory for all of us.
While I was in the hospital, the Washington Redskins visited. I guess they took a liking to me because I was invited to a game. The Redskins ended up winning the game thanks to a field goal by Brett Conway. In an interview afterward, he said “I met a little kid named Brett and he has cancer. That kick was for him.”
After that incredible experience, I was invited to a closed practice where Hall of Famer Darrell Green came over, picked me up, and had the team huddle around me to say a prayer. 18 years later and I am still the most passionate fan you’ll ever meet. To this day, I tell people that the Washington Redskins played a HUGE part in helping me beat cancer. I have no idea where I’d be today without them.
The point of this story is that you have a platform as an athlete, and it can be used to do a lot of good.
A 30-minute visit to the hospital to sit with a kid who is fighting to survive can change a life. I’m living, breathing proof of that. This is why I was always so proud to be a part of Vs. Cancer. The looks in the kids’ eyes when my teammates and I walked into the room was the same look I had when the Redskins visited me. These visits can change lives, and at the end of the day, that is what Vs. Cancer is all about.