Beginning an NFL career can be both an exciting and scary time for a rookie. Between team meetings, position meetings, workouts, practice, etc., there's so much happening every single day that taxes a player both mentally and physically.
For Chris Lindstrom, a first-round pick for the Atlanta Falcons in 2019, the start of his career came with one more life-altering event.
"About two or three weeks into camp, right before Week 1, my mom called me," Lindstrom said. "We finished up a preseason game. She had gotten diagnosed that Saturday with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. My parents didn't tell me, because they didn't want it to affect me playing in the game. They told me Monday."
Lindstrom was able to travel back home for three days prior to the start of the season to visit with his mother, Dawn, and family. With Lindstrom about to embark on his NFL journey, his older brother out of the house and his younger brother enrolled at Boston College, the bulk of the caretaking for his mother fell to his three younger sisters.
Since his mother's diagnosis, Lindstrom has become fully aware of just how all-consuming and intensive cancer can be for a family. Seeing all of the various treatments that she has to undergo and the toll it takes physically, mentally and emotionally is something that has given Lindstrom a newfound level of respect for all who go through it.
This isn't just a family matter for the Lindstrom's though. A warm and welcoming woman, Dawn has received a lot of support and encouragement from those within her community.
"The support from the community at home and really just the community in general supporting people with cancer, it makes a huge difference," Lindstrom said. "The inspiration my mom gets from the community feeds into her drive to keep battling, and it's truly inspiring."
That level of support has been a big lift for Dawn in her fight against ovarian cancer. Her son described her as someone who loves interacting with people, recalling the moment after he was drafted by the Falcons when she sent out an "open invitation" to anyone who had ever helped support his football journey to join the family in celebrating at their house.
From the very beginning, Dawn has been right there with her son on his path to the NFL. A typical sports mom, she spent countless hours at practices and games, and the two undoubtedly spent many of the moments in between talking about football.
"She took me to my first day of football," Lindstrom said. "She actually tried to get me dressed my first day of football; I wore thigh pads where my knee pads were supposed to be. She's that type of mom – every single practice, every single game. … She's extremely outgoing, extremely friendly, but then also tough as nails, too. She's kicked my butt more than once."
As part of the NFL-led program, Crucial Catch, the Atlanta Falcons and Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have teamed up to raise awareness for cancer throughout the month of October by bringing stories like the Lindstrom's to light.
Dawn Lindstrom has proven to be tough as nails as she continues her fight with ovarian cancer, which has provided her a new butt to kick.
The Atlanta Falcons' No. 14 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, G Chris Lindstrom, flew from his home state of Massachusetts to Georgia Friday morning.