For much of the 2016 season, stories about Tom Brady centered on the New England Patriots quarterback’s battle with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the four-game suspension he received in the wake of deflate-gate, Brady serving out that suspension, and the way he played once his suspension was over.
But at the end of the season, as the Patriots earned a spot in Super Bowl LI, Brady’s story took a different turn: during media night, Brady got emotional when he answered a kid reporter’s question on who he calls his hero.
And that of course led to questions. And that’s when the world learned that Brady’s mom, Galynn, had been battling cancer during the season.
With the Patriots and Atlanta Falcons meeting Sunday night in a rematch of their memorable Super Bowl, and with the NFL’s “Crucial Catch” campaign for cancer awareness this month, NFL Network ran a feature Sunday morning, with reporter Andrea Kremer speaking with Galynn Brady and Tom Brady Sr. in their home.
It was the first time Galynn has spoken publicly about her diagnosis and the emotions of the last year-plus; her treatments meant that the couple, married nearly 50 years, could not travel to see New England games as they’ve long done.
At the start of the piece, Galynn says she thinks there’s a special bond between a mother and son – Tom is the Brady’s only son, as he has three older sisters – and clips of Tom saying, “Hi, mom” as he closes out on-field postgame interviews are shown.
“He doesn’t say, ‘Hi, dad’,” Tom Sr. quips, holding Galynn’s hand.
“I just remember sitting in the doctor’s office and them telling me, ‘You have breast cancer, and it’s only Stage 2.’ The kind of cancer that I had is a very fast-growing, aggressive kind of cancer,” Galynn said.
Tom Sr. gets emotional as he remembers that moment. “I’m not ready to lose my wife,” he said. “She’s been my partner and confidant for now 48 years.”
Galynn began five months of chemotherapy in September 2016; her treatments were every Thursday at 10 a.m. On Sundays at 10 a.m., when the early NFL games begin on the West Coast, where the couple lives, even though she wasn’t feeling well from the regimen, Galynn and Tom Sr. would be tuned in. The games, especially Patriots games, gave them something to look forward to.
During their frequent chats on Facetime, Tom would always stress how beautiful his mother was, even as she struggled with losing her hair. But in one conversation, midway through the NFL season, Tom told his parents that he knew his mom would be ready to go for the Super Bowl.
Galynn’s five months of chemo ended just a couple of weeks before the Super Bowl, but she dealt with pneumonia and shingles in the days that followed. It wasn’t until the day before the couple was scheduled to leave for Houston that she got the go-ahead from her doctor to make the trip.
“I just wanted to be there for Tommy. And I wanted to be with our family; everybody was going to the Super Bowl, and I didn’t want to miss that,” Galynn said.
But Tom and the Patriots struggled; down 28-3, Galynn said, she just wanted to go home. “I was heartbroken for Tommy,” she explained.
As she was crestfallen for her son, Tom was on the sideline with his teammates, with receiver Julian Edelman telling him, “Let’s go score and win this thing … for your mom. For your mom, bro.”
As the Patriots completed the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, Galynn felt euphoric.
She was able to be there for her son and put cancer on the backburner for a couple of days; when Galynn and Tom Sr. returned to their home in San Mateo, California, she began five weeks of radiation. Her every-three-months scans since have all come back clean.
In honor of the inspiration Galynn provided to her son and for the role he said she played in their win, New England owner Robert Kraft had one of the massive championship rings given to players and coaches made for Galynn too.
The type of cancer Galynn had has a high chance of recurrence, but now that her fight is public, she hopes others can take something away from her story.
“I would hope that they would learn to keep a positive attitude, and not to give up hope. Be thankful every day; think about the people that are caring about you,” she said.
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