More than pink cleats: Redskins take breast cancer tribute personally

Katherine Warrick checks out her new makeup after sitting with an artist at the Redskins' All Star Survivors Celebration. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Quarterback Robert Griffin III wasn't part of the All Star Survivors Celebration, but when guest Gioia Albi spotted him and asked for a photo, he was all too happy to oblige. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Breast cancer patient Carlettia Witherspoon talks with a makeup artist while a friend takes her photo at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va. on Oct. 2, 2012. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Gap, Inc. donated jeans for the cancer patients as part of the makeover day the Redskins hosted in Ashburn, Va. on October 2, 2012. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
A makeup artist works to blend Katherine Warrick's foundation during her pampering session as her friend Alyssa Verner looks on. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
All the makeup in the American Cancer Society's Look Good, Feel Good gift bags was donated from a variety of companies. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
A pair of the pink cleats the Redskins' players will wear during October when the NFL recognizes National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
A guest 'All Star' tries on safety Reed Doughty's helmet during her tour of the Redskins' facility. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Inside the Redskins locker room, guests were able to check out the lockers of their favorite players. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
As part of the experience, the cancer patients being honored at the event could try on scarves and be fitted for wigs. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Tanya Snyder poses with the Zeta Tau Alpha THINK PINK crew that helped organize the event. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The American Cancer Society sent home goodie bags full of makeup with each patient as part of its Look Good, Feel Better campaign. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Redskin Nick Sundberg offers a guest a Gatorade during the tour of the Redskins facility in Ashburn, Va. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Breast cancer patient Michele Fortenberry gets a makeup tutorial during the Redskins' All Star Survivors Celebration. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

Megan Cloherty,

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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