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Cooking for a cause

Football players love to eat. There is no denying that.

And sometimes, they even like to cook.

On Tuesday they did some cooking, but this time not for themselves. The players took part in the 10th Annual Healthy Cooking Demo at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital for breast cancer survivors and current patients of the hospital’s cancer program.

“For us to come out here and spend some time with these ladies that are battling things that are bigger than us, it’s fun,” said Stephon Tuitt. “To give your time just to make someone laugh and be happy, it can make the whole day different for them.

“We are just showing them this is who we are, this is what we want to give.”

Some of the players have family members and friends who have been impacted by breast cancer, while others were there to just support anyone who has been impacted.

For Farrington Huguenin, it’s a personal thing.

“My grandmother went through it,” said Huguenin, who ended up losing her to breast cancer. “This is all about the smiles. If I can make someone smile, I love to smile, who doesn’t love to smile. That’s a plus in my day. We brought some of the locker room fun with us, making the ladies smile with our jokes.”

The players were split into two teams, with Tuitt and Huguenin teaming up, and Roosevelt Nix getting a little help from a UPMC specialist. And just like they do in everything else, the players got competitive with their cooking skills, in a fun way.

“There was no competition,” joked Nix. “I won on the desert and the main course.

“It was a good time. I just enjoy having a good time, seeing these ladies fight, and laugh. It’s a great time. To impact somebody’s life, it’s a good time.”

In the end everyone was a winner. The class was created to stress the importance of a healthy lifestyle for those who have battled, or are battling breast cancer. One of the key factors for survivors and patients, in addition to the treatment, is maintaining a healthy diet and good nutrition. And what better way to deliver that message than have Steelers players cooking for them.

“It’s a pleasure for us to have the Steelers here and visit with our patients,” said Troy Treanor, director of women’s cancer and specialty services. “This is a sports-centric city. As they win and are on their highs, our patients experience their highs as well. It’s phenomenal to have them root for our patients the same way our patients root for them every Sunday.

“We know nutrition is important as we care for our patients. That is just a piece of it. We know the emotional, the spiritual and all of that wraps into patient care. Having them here does uplift the spirits. It’s not just about the cooking, it’s about having fun, having a good time, and sharing that as a small piece of the community.” 

The class was also a fun escape for those who are going through, or have made it through treatment. There were smiles and laughter, and the patients all had the opportunity to take photos with the players and get autographs.

“It’s amazing. I really can’t put it into words,” said Tarin Nosker, from Dubois, Pa., who is currently undergoing treatment. “It’s amazing they come and donate their time. It’s so worth it to come here. I love it. They showed us different things. It helps. I know you have to eat healthy to maintain your diet. It’s been wonderful. They are great guys. They are having so much fun, we are having so much fun.

“It uplifts you. It’s such a positive thing. People are so supportive. The Steelers coming here…it’s definitely been an uplifting event for me.”

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