Washington Redskins punter Tress Way: 'I cried my eyes out' watching kids fight cancer

Tress Way, punter for the Washington Redskins, uses his NFL platform and works alongside his wife, a pediatric oncology nurse, to help raise money and awareness for childhood cancer. (Photo: Rob Leiter via Getty Images)

My mom always told me, ‘You better always give back, and if I ever find out you’re not, I’m coming for you,'” says Tress Way, punter for the Washington Redskins.

Way, speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle in the days leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, which also happens to be World Cancer Day in 2018, is discussing his work with the National Football League’s Crucial Catch program. It’s a partnership with the American Cancer Society that promotes cancer screenings and risk reduction and is a part of Way’s job that’s as dear to him as what he does on the field.

In fact, the struggle against cancer is a family affair of sorts at the Way household. While Way’s mother, grandfather, and grandmother each battled cancer, his wife, Brianna, works as a pediatric oncology nurse. Together, the couple has seen firsthand what it’s like to fight from the front lines.

I’ll never forget when I went with the NFL to visit kids at the oncology unit on Christmas,” Way recounts about a trip he made to the Inova Fairfax Hospital, which is a strategic health partner with the Washington Redskins. “I wore my jersey, just wanting to say hi to the kids and wish them a merry Christmas. After seeing five or six of them, I saw a couple, not much older than us, with their child there. I stepped out of the room and cried my eyes out. Bri was there, so sweet in her scrubs, and gave me a hug as I cried.”

Says Brianna, who works with patients who are newborn through young adulthood: “I just feel lucky because I feel like being in this profession, you realize the kids do more for you than you do for them. Being their nurse, I get to see how positive they are going through something so awful.”

In addition to Brianna’s full-time job helping children fight cancer (from which she’s currently on maternity leave, expecting twins in April), the couple attends the Redskins’s All-Star Survivors Celebration, an annual event honoring women in the Washington, D.C., area who either beat or are battling breast cancer, as well as fundraisers for the American Cancer Society. 

But Tress stresses the most important thing that people can do is to get screened for cancer and get ahead of the fight before it’s too late.

One awesome thing the ACS created is the Defender tool, which gives public free personalized tips to help you reduce your cancer risk,” he says, referring to the interactive digital tool that anyone can use to better understand how at-risk they may be. “That’s the kind of research people need to do so we can learn everyday how to hopefully be with our loved ones longer. That’s our incredible weapon.” 

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