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Vikings Recognize Cancer Survivors and Patients as Part of 'Crucial Catch' Game

Posted Oct 21, 2017

The Vikings during Sunday’s game against the Ravens are supporting the fight against cancer as part of the NFL’s “Crucial Catch” campaign.

The NFL and American Cancer Society (ACS) have evolved the campaign to address early detection and risk reduction efforts for multiple cancers. The Vikings honored a number of cancer survivors and patients at the annual Vikings Crucial Catch Luncheon that took place on Tuesday, and those same individuals will be honored at tomorrow’s matchup at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Karen Booth | Breast Cancer | A lifelong Vikings fan, Karen grew up watching training camp in Mankato through the 1970s and 80s. Karen faced a number of health issues in 2012, including her cancer diagnosis, but has since undergone successful treatments and left behind several medications. Karen works closely with ACS and says that Vikings CB Marcus Sherels has been supportive throughout her cancer battle.

Sue Zelickson | Breast Cancer | Sue lost both of her parents to different cancers and was diagnosed with breast cancer herself five years ago. Now cancer-free, 83-year-old Sue – a self-proclaimed “Minneapolis foodie” – says she’s feeling better than ever.

Rebecca Brandt | Breast Cancer | Rebecca, mother-in-law of Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at the age of 35. When she was told there was no hope, she fired her initial oncologist and rather sought aggressive treatment that included a mastectomy and chemotherapy. Five years after her initial diagnosis, Rebecca went in for a chest x-ray after feeling short of breath, and a 6-cm mass was discovered in her lung and removed. Rebecca is 27 years cancer-free and now encourages others impacted by cancer as well as spreads a message of self-examination and early detection.  

Pam Olson | Colon Cancer | Pam was diagnosed in June 2005. After surgery and chemotherapy, the cancer was gone December 2005. During that time, it was also discovered that Pam, her sister and their mom all had the breast cancer gene mutation, and Pam proceeded to have a double mastectomy and removal of her ovaries to prevent cancer from occurring.

Connie Kasella | Colon Cancer | Connie was diagnosed in June 2013. More than a year into treatment that involved radiation, chemo and surgeries, cancer had spread to her liver, requiring removal of the left lobe. She has been cancer-free since April 2015 but has continued to struggle with complications. Connie has been hospitalized 29 times since her diagnosis but maintains a positive attitude and many goals for her future.

Travis Luoma | Colon Cancer | Travis underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy and surgery after he was diagnosed with cancer following an eight-year battle with ulcerative colitis. After surgery and 12 rounds of chemotherapy, Travis was in remission as of April 2015 but diagnosed with liver cancer in June 2016.

Janet Marek | Breast Cancer | After battling breast cancer twice, Janet was diagnosed in 2016 with Stage 4 liver cancer. She underwent her last chemotherapy treatment in May and continues to undergo maintenance treatments.

Katherine Bensen | Lung Cancer | Diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer on New Year’s Eve, 2014, Katherine has received medication since and began a new targeted therapy approach in August 2017. Targeted therapy and precision medicine have prolonged Katherine’s life; bettered her quality of life to spend time with her husband, John, and their four children: Henry (19), Anne (17), Millie (14) and Sadie (11); and has given her family a reason to hope.

Richard Vandenbos | Melanoma | A lifetime Vikings fan and longtime season-ticket holder, Richard was diagnosed in 1991 after years of sun exposure and outdoor jobs. He underwent multiple successful surgeries to remove the cancer and continues to receive annual evaluations.

Lucas Hobbs | Pediatric Cancer | Lucas was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in January 2015 at the age of 12, eight years after his mother received the same diagnosis. He spent nearly 40 nights in the hospital undergoing numerous tests, surgery and radiation treatments. Lucas now helps run his own charity, “Chef Lucas Food,” which helps to host food truck events around the city. His program helps to provide food for families of pediatric patients. Both he and his mother are now in remission.

Chantel Morrow | Cervical Cancer | Chantel was diagnosed at age 23 and underwent emergency surgery to remove the tumor. Chantel opted against chemotherapy and will be 11 years cancer-free this December.

Dave Nelson | Prostate Cancer | Dave, head coach of the Minnetonka High School football team, received his cancer diagnosis in January 2011 and has been blessed by incredible community support.

Hans Johnson | Pancreatic Cancer | Doctors discovered more than 20 tumors upon cancer diagnosis in 2015 and was given a 6-month left expectancy with chemotherapy. Despite a 5-percent survival rate, Hans is going on nine months with clean scans. He continues hoping to check the biggest item off his bucket list, a Vikings Super Bowl championship.

John Leis | Brain Cancer | John was diagnosed in July 2011 and told there was no hope after the discovery of a grapefruit-sized brain tumor. After his case was turned down by multiple doctors, John was then treated by Dr. Ian Parney at the Mayo Clinic. He has gone through surgery and radiation, and he is currently managing growth of the tumor.

Kathy Andersen | Kidney Cancer | Kathy was going through appointments at Mayo Clinic in May 2007 in hopes of donating a kidney to her older brother; it was during her last appointment that she was told she had cancer and would be unable to donate the organ despite being a match. Kathy underwent surgery to remove a quarter of her right kidney, and because of early detection was able to avoid any chemotherapy or radiation treatments. She now returns every two years for maintenance follow-up appointments but has been cancer-free for 10 years and counting. Kathy’s brother is still waiting for a match and kidney donation.

Haley Crain | Pediatric Cancer | After undergoing a bone-marrow transplant this summer, Haley was soon cleared of cancer. Haley and her parents will be ringing a bell during Sunday’s game to signify she is now cancer-free.