CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Broncos coach John Fox made a rare public appearance during the season on Thursday night, taking time away from his undefeated team in order to raise money in the fight against breast cancer.
During a month when the Broncos wear pink for breast cancer awareness, coach Fox spoke at a Men for the Cure fundraising event, which brings men together to raise money for breast cancer research and medical equipment.
“I did lose my mom in 1986 at the young age of 49,” Fox said, describing how cancer impacted his own life. “In those days they didn’t quite have the detection and the technology and the science to detect those things.”
Stories like Fox’s are exactly what made the event special for Jeff Thompson.
“It brings a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat,” Thompson said.
Jeff Thompson lost his wife, Diane O’Conner Thompson, to breast cancer 13 years ago. Her death inspired the annual event and silent auction, which attracted more than 700 men Thursday night and has generated more than a million dollars for research at the University of Colorado Hospital.
“Out of her tragic death, you know, here it is that we can do something, hopefully, to prevent other women from having to go through this,” Jeff Thompson said.
In addition to funding research, Men for the Cure has also invested a great deal of money into new technology for the exam room, including a 3D tomosynthesis mammography unit that is now provides scans for all women who get their yearly breast exams at University of Colorado Hospital.
“Instead of just the two views of the standard mammogram gives, we are able to generate 104 images of the breast,” said Dr. Wei-Shin Wang, Assistant Professor of Radiology at the University of Colorado Hospital.
Wei-Shin said the new machine has already helped detect cancer in women that normal mammograms would have missed.
Men for the Cure is also helping take that technology on the road, providing half the funding for a mobile mammography lab, which diagnosed more than a dozen cases of breast cancer last year.
“All of you paid the price to help make that come true and I appreciate that,” coach Fox said, addressing the crowd at the event.
Jeff Thompson said those advancements are what the event is all about.
“I’m hopeful that my son, Diane’s son, will never have to go through losing his wife to breast cancer,” Jeff Thompson said. “For me, it’s personal. For me, that’s what it’s all about.”