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Packers vs. Cancer campaign aims to educate about the importance of early screening for the disease

Posted at 11:20 PM, Sep 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-30 06:17:11-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — Most of us know someone who's been affected by cancer.

Aaron Popkey has seen the disease affect his own family.

"I've got an aunt who's a breast cancer survivor," he said. "I have a grandfather who passed away at the age of 57 from colon cancer."

That's part of the reason why the Packers' director of public affairs got a screening done.

"I put off my colon cancer screening," Popkey said. "Part of it was Covid and part of it was just 'hey, I'm healthy. I don't need to worry about that.' But with a family history, I should've gotten that taken care of right away."

This year's Packers vs. Cancer campaign aims to educate others about the importance of getting their own screening for the disease.

"We are fortunate in the NFL and the Packers to have a lot of attention on the team and our games," Popkey said. "And I think with that comes a lot of good."

Part of the initiative is a Friday night high school football matchup between Luxemburg-Casco and Denmark.

It's a team effort with Bellin Health. Dr. Brad Wozney says early screening provides the best chance to survive.

"One of the hardest things we have as health care providers is telling someone they have cancer," he said.

As the Bellin medical director for population health, he's seeing breast cancer hit women at a younger age.

"We know that if we can catch breast cancer early, your chances of survival are significantly improved," Wozney said. "There's less need for surgery, less need for radiation or chemotherapy."

Fundraising efforts include the sale of hats at the Packers Pro Shop. Five dollars from each beanie go to the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation.

Wozney says anyone can get the disease, so it's important to get checked out before it's too late.

"Cancer screening methods, often people think they're icky," he said. "There's things that they don't like about doing them. But it's a lot better than being treated for cancer."

Bellin Health is also hosting the Screen/Pass Challenge. People can challenge their friends and family to get screened for cancer. Participants are placed in a drawing to win Packers apparel and game tickets.

NBC 26 is the official broadcast partner of the Packers vs. Cancer high school football game. The matchup is live this Friday.