Redskins Owner's Wife Steps Out of the Shadows

Snyder was fortunate to spot the cancer early

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and his wife, Tanya

    Ashburn, Va. -- When the NFL and its players come decked out with pink cleats, pink gloves or wristbands Oct. 4, there'll be at least one woman to thank: Tanya Snyder.

    Most Washington Redskins fans wouldn't recognize the soft Georgia twang of Snyder's voice if they heard it. Her 10 years since husband Dan bought the team have been spent behind the scenes, raising three children and supporting various causes, mainly breast cancer awareness.

    Then, last year, she was diagnosed with the very condition she had been working so hard to fight. Now, as a cancer survivor, she is taking on a more public role as a national spokeswoman for NFL's "Crucial Catch" breast cancer awareness campaign.

    "My life has been very private," the 47-year-old Snyder said in an interview with The Associated Press in her husband's office at Redskins Park. "And this was one of those things I felt like, after experiencing it, this was the thing that I need to step out for."

    Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, whose mother died of breast cancer, is the other national spokesman for the campaign, which encourages screenings for women over 40 and is a partnership with the American Cancer Society.

    Snyder's story is a casebook example of knowing one's own body. She went for a yearly mammogram in November 2007. The results were normal, but soon she was getting completely different signals.

    "In February, I felt something," Snyder said. "And then the next month, I felt something. And I went to the doctor and said, 'I have something here.' And they said, 'Well, you just had a mammogram.' And I said, 'I know, but something's here and it's not normal.'

    "They did another mammogram and it was nothing still. That's a very important message: You have to listen to yourself and be self-advocating, because I continued to stay with it. And unfortunately, I was right. They did a sonogram and that's when they told me, 'You have breast cancer.'"

    Snyder was fortunate to spot the cancer early. She opted for surgery, both at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and at a hospital in the Washington area. The choice of treatment meant she did not have to undergo chemotherapy, so she still has her shoulder-length blond hair. She is doing well, although there are more follow-up visits to the doctor to come.

    The wealthy Snyders are a reminder that cancer knows no boundaries. Dan Snyder survived a bout with thyroid cancer in 2001.

    "That's one of the things that stops you in your tracks in your life," she said.