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Seahawks give woman with stage 4 breast cancer ‘best day ever’

Kate, right, got to meet her hero, Detroit Lion Luke Willson, thanks to her best friend, Kenzie, left, in Detroit last October. (Kenzie Fruge)

A 27-year-old Seahawks fan battling stage 4 breast cancer got the surprise of her life at Sunday’s game in Detroit.

In February 2017, Kate Irwin received the diagnosis that no 25-year-old expects — stage 3 grade 3 triple negative breast cancer. This has since progressed to stage 4 breast cancer, which currently does not have a cure.

There is no denying that breast cancer has completely turned Irwin’s life upside-down. However, she strives to live every day with an upbeat attitude.

“I’m feeling great, I have a great team of doctors,” she said, giving a special shoutout to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Dr. John Keech at MultiCare Gig Harbor.

It’s a battle that is made easier by the encouragement of family and friends. Standing by Irwin’s side are her loved ones, especially her best friend since age 8, Kenzie Fruge.

“I feel so fortunate to get the care that I’m getting and to have the support of my family and friends,” Irwin said.

Irwin and Fruge are big Seahawks fans, and have a tradition of traveling across the country to go to Seahawks away games. The two friends also like to do a fun activity on the weekend before Irwin’s chemo treatments — every third week.

This past weekend, Fruge convinced Irwin not only to fly to Detroit for the Seahawks-Lions game, but also to get front-row seats.

“We were like, ‘If we’re going all the way there, we should be in the first row,'” Irwin said.

The two best friends made a sign paying tribute to Irwin’s 66 chemo treatments, her eight weeks of radiation, two surgeries, and the 2,300 miles they traveled to Detroit, along with the words,  “Cancer can’t stop a 12.”

Irwin and Fruge arrived at the field early and put their sign up while watching the teams warm up. After just a few minutes, Seahawks President Chuck Arnold came over to Irwin and invited them onto the field to watch practice.

“We were so overwhelmed — I mean, obviously that was unexpected, and he saw that, and it was out of the goodness of his heart,” Irwin said.

Irwin and Fruge got to go watch the practice from the closest view possible, and Irwin even gave Seahawks General Manager John Schneider a hug.

“We were on the field and we were like, ‘This day cannot get any better, this is the best thing that has ever happened,'” Irwin said. “I was on cloud nine; just seeing them warm up and just watching everyone play was really cool, because we cheer for them every week.”

Irwin went back to her seat in a flurry of excitement. But then, after wide receiver Tyler Lockett caught a 24-yard touchdown pass, “a day that I thought couldn’t get any better got so much better.”

“All of a sudden, I see someone reach over the bar and hand me a football, and I looked down, and it was Tyler Lockett,” she said.

Lockett wrote the date of the game and the words “first touchdown,” signed his name, and added the message, “Put God first.”

“I was completely shocked and overwhelmed that he handed me his touchdown football,” Irwin said.

Lion surprise

Irwin thought at this point that her day could not possibly get any more incredible, but Fruge had a special surprise in store for her longtime best friend. Through a friend, Fruge had arranged for Irwin to meet her all-time favorite football player, Detroit Lion Luke Willson.

Fruge led Irwin over to where the Lions players were gathered after the game on the pretext of saying hello to an old college friend. However, Fruge’s real plan was to lead Irwin to Willson.

Willson came out and walked right over to Irwin. She was overwhelmed by the gift of getting to meet her football hero.

“These are guys you cheer for every week, and just for them to take the time to say hey was really, really amazing,” Irwin said.

Irwin was even wearing her Luke Willson jersey — from his time as a Seahawk, of course.

“It was amazing, just for him to take the time out,” Irwin said.

Willson — and his parents — spent a few minutes chatting with the women and taking photos with them.

“I kept saying, ‘This is the best day ever, this is the best day ever, it couldn’t get any better,'” Irwin said. “And then to meet your favorite player is just amazing. He was so gracious and really sweet.”

After experiencing the most incredible day she could have imagined, Irwin thanks her best friend for supporting her and making her dreams come true.

“I am so grateful for her friendship, she has just been my rock through all of this,” Irwin said through tears. “I feel very fortunate.”

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