Mother of NFL Player, Debra Benson, Shares Her Story

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Champion Stories
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Meet Debra and Trinity Benson, relentless champions of hope from Denton, TX.

Inspired by his mom’s fight with colorectal cancer, Trinity, a Denver Broncos wide receiver, chose to use his cleats to raise awareness of colorectal cancer during the NFL’s 2020 #MyCauseMyCleats campaign, directing his fans and followers to Fight Colorectal Cancer for more information.

We caught up with the Bensons to learn more about their story and what gives them hope.

Q. What led to you getting screened?

Debra: I was first diagnosed with stage III colon cancer at age 53 after a routine colonoscopy.

Q. What treatment did you undergo? What was that like for you?

Debra: I had surgery to remove the colon tumor on December 27, 2019 and I started chemo in February 2020.

Q. How did you feel when you discovered you had colon cancer? Trinity, what was your reaction when you found out?

Debra: I could not believe this happened to me and I did not understand why at the beginning!

Trinity: Personally, this was hard for me. My mom is a very lively and outgoing person, so watching her go through chemo was rough on my brother, my dad, and me. Just watching her lay in the bed all day with barely enough energy to even eat at times was hard.

Q. Trinity mentioned that he didn’t find out until later, after you’d had surgery, that you had cancer. Why did you choose to wait to share with him? What was that like for you?

Debra: I refused to tell Trinity I had cancer since the word “cancer” is so devastating to most and because he was so far away from me. We told him I was sick and I needed surgery, but I could wait for him to be home in late January. “Go ahead,” he replied. “Mom, take care of you and I’ll be home to help.” So we went forward. I did not want Trinity to be worried or fearful about his mother. I just wanted him to focus on football. I am a private person and I did not want to share this news with anyone until it was clear and I had all the information and all the facts.

Q. Debra, how did you feel upon hearing the news that Trinity used his cleats to honor your cancer fight?

Debra: I was in tears when I received the text with the picture of the cleats. Words cannot express what those cleats with the word “#DebraStrong” meant to me, and that I would have the kind of impact on my son that led him to show his deepest love and care for me that much.

Q. Trinity, there are many causes and charities out there. Why did you choose colorectal cancer and Fight CRC for the cleats?

Trinity: My mom is a fighter! I told the team I wanted to do something about colon cancer on my cleats and dedicate it to my mom who is a survivor. Colon cancer is something I have been personally affected by and there is no better way to use my voice and my platform to bring awareness to an issue that can sometimes be caught in the shadows of some of the other cancers.

Q. How has your family supported you through this journey? Who has been part of your support team?

Debra: I’m from a large family and we are very close. We became united as one even though we are in different locations. My family called, texted, and came to visit. Some even came and prepared meals, rubbed my back, prayed for me, and just sat with me.

From the day I found out I had cancer, my sister, Betty Johnson, and nephew Luther have been by my side every step of the way, going with me to the oncologist, the surgeon, and being at the hospital for four to five days.

I cannot forget my number one sidekick, my husband Ivy Benson. This was a difficult time for us but we hung together and got through it. When I didn’t want to cry, he would cry for me. But with the help of our loved ones, we stay strong!

Now, my older brother also has colon cancer.

Q. Who do you fight for?

Debra: I’m always front and center for my two sons no matter what they need. I’ve always tried hard to make it happen. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I knew it would be hard for them and my husband so I decided to fight this fight… and fight hard.

Q. At Fight CRC, we are the relentless champions of hope! What helps you be relentless and have hope?

Debra: One day I called my pastor and asked him to pray for my two sons and my husband. He replied, “Debra I will, but first I’ll pray for you.” My thought to him was, “No need because I know I am a child of God and that he was going to carry me through these health issues!” For some reason after it happened, I got on my knees and I said, “Lord, you allowed this to happen to me. Now I’m asking you to go with me through this entire journey.” I decided to focus on this fight against cancer with a smile!

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