Megan Cloherty, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - It has been a surreal six months for 31-year-old Katherine Warrick from Montclair, Va., who is battling stage-two breast cancer. She had no family history of the disease but found a lump in April that turned into a diagnosis of invasive ductal carcinoma.
How she ended up at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va. has a lot to do with the support she sought and less to do with her favorite football team.
During her four and a half months of chemotherapy, Warrick decided to join a group for women under 40 with breast cancer. The Life through Cancer program, run through Inova Alexandria Hospital keeps patients social and active by inviting them to walks, yoga classes and events like the Redskins All Star Survivor Celebration.
Warrick is one of 20 local patients the team is honoring throughout October which is designated National Breast Cancer Month. The month-long celebration started Tuesday with a lavish luncheon for the patients featuring makeup sessions with goodie bags, wig fittings, pink Redskins gear and a new pair of Gap jeans for each guest.
While most NFL teams participate in the league's tribute to breast cancer survivors by wearing bright pink gear on the field all month, for the Redskins, the fight against the disease is personal.
Former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley brought the idea to the franchise five years ago after his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"He saw her lose her hair and the pain she was going through so he wanted to do something to give back, says Tanya Snyder, owner Dan Synder's wife and a league Breast Cancer Awareness spokesperson.
"We're able to really make a difference through the foundation for many causes, in particular we're doing a lot for women's causes. I like to think we're certainly making a difference," Snyder says.
The team especially appreciates the bravery of these 20 women. While giving them an opportunity to tour the facility and meet the players seems like a small thing, Warrick says it was a nice way to take her mind off the difficulty of her everyday life.
While she finished her chemo three weeks ago, Warrick has made a big decision that will change the course of her treatment.
"On the 22nd of this month, I'll have a double mastectomy with reconstruction," she says.
Her decision, while seemingly drastic for her age, is supported by her surgeon.
"She would have supported a lumpectomy as well but I just decided, I don't want to do this again," Warrick laughs. "I'm over it."
Learn more about the Redskins month-long tribute to patients and survivors of breast cancer on the team's website.
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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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