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Moms of Rookies Encourage Breast Cancer Patients

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MINNEAPOLIS — The support didn't end Sunday.

Rose Murphy, mother of Vikings rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater and a breast cancer survivor, wants others facing the disease to know that.

"You're not alone. There's someone you can talk to," Murphy said when asked what advice she has for people who receive the diagnosis. "They have so many different organizations and associations that you can talk to, and just don't be afraid. Tackle it head on and you can get through it."

Murphy joined members of Zeta Tau Alpha outside TCF Bank Stadium to distribute some of the 25,000 pink ribbons that have become symbols of support. She shared hugs and stories with others, posed for pictures and even signed her first autograph.

The Vikings saluted survivors, encouraged patients and helped memorialize those who have lost their battles with breast cancer with multiple elements of the "A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives" game-day experience to stress the importance of early detection through medical exams.

Murphy sounded the ceremonial Gjallarhorn before the game while wearing ribbon earrings, a pink campaign-style button that said "Courage" and a T-shirt that announces herself as "STRONGER THAN YESTERDAY."

Not every day during Murphy's treatment felt that way. She was a single mom when she was diagnosed seven years ago when Bridgewater was 14-year-old Teddy. The mother and son said they drew inspiration from each other, and Murphy learned how to get through it. She underwent a lumpectomy and has quarterly medical exams to make sure she remains cancer free.

"First you have to accept it, and once you accept it, you have to make up in your mind that you're going to survive it and you have to fight and know that you can beat it," Murphy said.

Murphy isn't the only mother of a Vikings rookie who is a breast cancer survivor.

Safety Antone Exum's mother, Barbara Exum, was an honorary captain for the pre-game coin toss Sunday. Barbara Exum was diagnosed when Antone was in middle school and opted not to tell her children because their grandmother, Carreanna Exum, passed away because of cancer shortly before Barbara's diagnosis.

"My mom was very courageous during the whole process," Exum said. "She was lucky enough to beat it in the early stages and didn't even tell us about it, that she had been diagnosed with cancer. She didn't want to put that heartache on us that something bad was going to happen, so she kind of put it all on her shoulders, and I tip my hat to her for doing that. I can't speak enough about that. It was a very courageous move on her part. I wasn't able to help because I didn't know what was going on."

Bridgewater, Exum and Vikings players and coaches wore pink equipment during the game to show their support.

"I'm representing all of them when I put on the pink color and definitely my mother," Exum said. "It's definitely meaningful for me."

Murphy said the sign of support is great because "once upon a time, they said, 'Real men don't wear pink,' but the pink is worldwide support from the NFL, and it's just a beautiful thing to be pinked out."

She looks forward to doing what she can to encourage others.

"I wasn't left here just to say, 'I'm a breast cancer survivor. I beat cancer,' but I want to share with people and help people," Murphy said. "If they see Teddy's mom smiling, Teddy's mom got through it, 'I can do it too.' "

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