Ahead of kickoff on Sunday, a close look at the wrists of Washington's running back coaches as well as several players revealed a pink bracelet. The plastic bands, inscribed with #RoJo, were a sign of support for a pink-clad woman standing near the end zone going through the fight of her life.
"I've got all kinds of emotions going on today … Just knowing that it's more than football," Romonda Jordan said during pregame. "I know that it's tough for him [Commanders running backs coach Randy Jordan] to be so busy with the season. You have to focus; you have to grind but life is still going on. So, knowing he's at work and has the support of his players and the other coaches, it means a lot to him, but it really means a lot to me."
The game wasn't a one-off; those wristbands have been around, mirroring the ever-present support the Jordan family has received on a difficult journey over the last several months as Romonda undergoes treatment for stage 3 breast cancer. As the wife of an NFL coach, Romonda has watched her fair share of "My Cause My Cleats" games like Sunday's. For the first time ever though this year, she had her own pair of shoes painted for the occasion. Both she and Randy Jordan repped the Brem Foundation to Defeat Breast for this season's initiative.
Breast cancer has never been far from Romonda's mind. She has always helped to raise money for organizations such as Race for the Cure, the National Breast Cancer Foundation and IIIB's Foundation. That passion started long ago. Then, her mom was diagnosed, eventually beating breast cancer twice. Just this year, she lost two close friends, both members of the NFL community, to the disease.
"I was struggling before I even found out I had breast cancer," Romonda said.
Her closeness to the disease didn't remove any of the shock and distress when she discovered her own lump one night this past June. She thought to herself "almost immediately" that "Something's not right." Doctors would later discover a second lump and told Romonda that she both had stage 3 breast cancer and two different types of cancer.
"I've walked through it with different people, raised funds and done all of this stuff," she said. "But, at the end of the day, whenever I got that diagnosis, it was still a shock to the system. I still had all the feelings."
After sitting in some of those harder and scarier feelings, Romonda started to think about next steps.
"When it did click in, that was when I was like, 'Okay, what's the plan? How am I going to get through this? What do I need to do?'" she said.
One of the most helpful people she spoke to was Dr. Rachel Brem of George Washington University Hospital. It wasn't the first time these two had seen their paths cross. Brem is the inspiration behind and chief medical officer of the Brem Foundation, a non-profit that focuses on early detection resources and education as well as pushing for more cancer screening access.
"In previous years with Washington, I've been involved with events that Brem has been involved with, so I started really being interested in what she was doing and what her foundation was all about," Romonda said. "She was the person that I reached out to and wanted to get her opinion on the best surgeon, how to go through this whole road. And she was a gem."
Brem did Romonda's breast MRI. More hospital visits and tests than Romonda could have predicted ensued as a team of care providers worked to figure out the best ways to treat her cancer. She's been going through chemotherapy for the last several months and that will continue into the new year.
The journey has been challenging, but through it all, she has kept a focus on using the experience to help others. In October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Romonda opened up on social media about what she had been going through.
"I really felt like if all this time I'm advocating for breast cancer, I can't just be quiet during this moment," she said. "It was about how many people do I have an opportunity to reach."
She pushed for anyone reading or watching her initial post to "make her a pinky promise." She asked that if you or someone you know hasn't had their routine mammogram, get it on the books by the end of the year.
"I had people reach out like, 'Hey, I had been ignoring that call, and I saw your post, so thank you," Romonda said.
"My Cause My Cleats" presented yet another opportunity for Romonda to help others and get the word out.
"Coach Jordan has done it every year and this year he was like, 'It's a no brainer. This is about you,'" she said. "He knew how important the Brem Foundation was to me and really to both of us."
As Romonda has put love and support out in the midst of this painful process, she has received an onslaught of love and support back. She looks at all the care from loved ones, the cards, texts, visits and other gestures as her "bright spot" through all of this. Having been on the other side of this path before, she knows how important that support system can be.
"I just feel blessed because the doctors told me, 'Make sure you have your village of people' and everyone from players on the team to coaches on the team to college friends to coaches' wives have been there, and it's just been really awesome," she said. "No matter who you are, that's what you need to get through it. You don't need to walk through it alone."
Bid on Randy and Romonda Jordans cleat here.