With COVID-19 dominating headlines, the Bears are raising awareness of another health risk: breast cancer.
The team has unveiled its new "Real Bears Fans Wear Pink" shirts. While the absence of fans at games at Soldier Field changes some logistics for this Bears Care initiative, the goal remains the same.
The presence of a global pandemic does not diminish the danger of breast cancer and may, in fact, increase it.
"Patients are more reluctant to pursue their routine screening," said Dr. Heidi C. Memmel, surgical director at the Caldwell Breast Center, "and even to go to the doctor for much needed treatment."
At a time when the medical system is spread thin, awareness becomes more important.
"On a personal note," said Memmel, "I've seen numerous patients who delayed their routine mammogram, or felt a new mass several months ago and waited longer than they normally would have for testing. I fear that in six months when the pandemic has resolved, we will see far more advanced tumors than we have in the past, all due to a delay in diagnosis. It is important for patients to keep up with their normal healthcare and not be afraid to see their doctor, while taking necessary precautions to stay safe against the virus."
This is the 13th season in which "Real Bears Fans Wear Pink" shirts have been sold. The team partnered with Advocate Health Care to put the drive together in preparation for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. The team debuted the shirts in 2008 and raised $80,000.
"As we enter the 13th year of the Real Bears Fans Wear Pink campaign, fundraising to support survivors coping with a cancer diagnosis has taken on even greater importance during the pandemic," said Marge Hamm, director of Bears Care. "Unfortunately, cancer has not disappeared in the last six months, so we hope the message and visual reminder of the shirts will prompt fans everywhere to follow cancer screening guidelines, schedule the recommended appointments and visit with their doctors if symptoms present."
The shirts cost $30 and are available for purchase at ChicagoBears.com/pink. The shirts can be shipped directly or picked up at BearsFit in Vernon Hills.
Proceeds will go to Bears Care and local programs providing care, assistance and support to breast cancer patients and their families.
The Bears and Bears Care will officially recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness Month on Oct. 8, when the Bears host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their Crucial Catch game. During the week leading into the game, Bears players will wear special white and pink Advocate Health Care patches on their practice jerseys, some of which will be auctioned off to fans via the free Chicago Bears Official App brought to you by Verizon.