When you think of Jerome Bettis, a former Steelers running back, a back who never backed down from a challenge, a Hall of Fame finalist, you think of tough, strong and courageous.
When Jerome Bettis thinks of those same attributes he immediately thinks of his mother, Gladys Bettis.
Jerome Bettis and his mother Gladys gather to raise money for breast cancer awareness.
Gladys Bettis has been fighting a battle tougher than anything her son faced in his 13 years in the NFL. She is battling breast cancer. She was diagnosed last summer with Stage 2 ½ breast cancer, and since has gone through the ups and downs associated with the disease, but has done it with a smile on her face and the strength of 20 NFL running backs in her heart.
"Just to see what she has been going through. Not feeling good, feeling bad, but every time somebody comes over she puts a smile on her face," said Bettis of his mother. "She puts a positive face on a terrible situation. I look at it and think I could never do that. You think I would want to be alone. But that isn't how she handled it. She has kept all of the family involved and that is an amazing thing to see. I just wish I could go through this for her.
"I just want her to know I am in her corner and going through this process with her. I want to celebrate her as much as I can. She is the toughest person that I know."
While most of the battle has gone on in the privacy of family, on Friday night the Bettis' took the battle public at Triple Indulgence, an event he hosted to honor his mother's battle and to benefit Magee-Women's Research Institute & Foundation's Breast Cancer Patient Care Fund.
"Everyone knows how I feel about Jerome, and all of my kids," said Gladys Bettis. "He is such a special young man. He has been a God send to our family. He is so special. He knows how I am, how I feel, what I am going through and that I am fighting. I want everyone out there to fight like me. This is a battle, but let's go through it. I want to show others it can be done. He is the catalyst to this. If he can go out there and help others, then he is there. He is a giving young man. I will do whatever I can to help too."
The event highlighted three of her favorite things, jewelry, wine and chocolate, and while she can't enjoy the wine part as she is still going through chemotherapy, she was able to indulge in looking at a vast array of beautiful jewelry while enjoying chocolate.
"For a minute I couldn't do chocolate," she said with a laugh. "For that to be one of the things taken away from me. But for right now chocolate is back.
"It's so important to do this, to give back while I am still going through my treatment. I have been since day one. I talk about it, talk to others. I think it helps. I let everyone know you have to keep your spirits up. I have so many people praying for me. I call them my prayer warriors. You have to keep your inner spirit up and let everyone know you are going to make it. It's a fight and I am ready for the battle. If I can keep myself like that, anyone can."
It was also important for the Bettis' to host the event in Pittsburgh, and have it help a local charity. Bettis, who was just honored as the Walter Camp Football Foundation's 2014 Man of the Year, has been involved in the Pittsburgh community from the day he arrived in Pittsburgh until now.
"It's a special place to do it because I have had so much success here and she has been so much of the fabric of what I have been able to accomplish in Pittsburgh," he said. "It's fitting that she talks about her battle and what she is going through in Pittsburgh. That is why I wanted to do it here and support her and support the Magee-Women's Hospital."