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Crucial Catch And The Story Of Nancy Bidwill

Posted Oct 12, 2017

Cardinals matriarch battled breast cancer throughout her life

Owners Bill and Nancy Bidwill pose with the NFC Championship trophy back in 2009. Nancy Bidwill passed away from breast cancer in 2016.

For a long time, Nancy Bidwill’s breast cancer had been in remission.

Almost 30 years later a different version appeared, frightening her whole family – until once again, the disease was beaten back, and her family saw their matriarch from a different perspective.

“We realized my mother had this tremendous gift to fight something fiercely, but with amazing grace,” said Michael Bidwill, president of the Cardinals.

The NFL is in the middle of its “Crucial Catch” month, set aside every season for cancer awareness. The concept this season was changed to include all types of cancer, but until this year, the focus was on breast cancer – and that was a topic well known by the Cardinals and the Bidwills. The team’s “Crucial Catch” game will be Sunday when the Cardinals host the Buccaneers.

Nancy Bidwill finally passed away from breast cancer in August of 2016, at the age of 84.

“It’s something really personal to me and my family,” Michael Bidwill said.

Nancy Bidwill was first diagnosed with breast cancer in the mid-1970s. In her early 40s, the family didn’t know what to expect. Michael, around 10 at the time, said the family was scared Nancy wouldn’t survive.

But eventually the cancer went into remission. Then a different form cropped up in 2002 before eventually finding remission. Then a different form came in 2012.

“Her life, in many ways, was marked by breast cancer,” Michael Bidwill said.

He said his mother went into remission “relatively quickly” the last time, only to have it reappear in 2014. That was the version she could never shake, her body worn down by the chemotherapy and treatments over the years.

“The ‘Crucial Catch’ campaign has really expanded,” Michael Bidwill said. “But for me I really wanted to honor our mother with the breast cancer awareness for 2017.”

The Bidwills aren’t the only high-profile example with the Cardinals that have dealt with breast cancer. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald lost his mother to the disease when he was in college.

“I’m always representing my mother, whether I am talking (to the media) or going out into the community,” Fitzgerald said. “She raised me. I think so I’m moreso proud that the NFL recognizes the women that are battling it or going through it or lost their lives to it.”

Fitzgerald said while he’s never had an extended conversation with Michael Bidwill on the subject, the Pro Bowl wide receiver did form a bond with Nancy Bidwill. Fitzgerald would often stop by the Bidwills just to say hello and check in to see how both she and Bill were doing.

“(Larry) always had a special place in his heart for her battles with breast cancer and he visited their house often,” Michael Bidwill said. “Stopping by really made a big difference. Cancer in general touches every family. You either are related to someone or know someone who has been affected by cancer.”

Those are the things Bidwill likes to think about with his mother. When combing through photos of his mother this week, he particularly liked one of his parents – in their 80s – swinging on a swingset in his sister’s backyard, acting like little kids.

“When I think about my Mom,” Bidwill said, “I think of the great times.”

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