ATLANTA — A former University of Georgia football player and his mother are working together to advocate for those fighting the battle against breast cancer.
This subject hits home particularly so for Kelee Ringo, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor. Tralee Hale battled with the disease during her son's playing days in college.
Now, Ringo is making sure other women have the right resources and information when it comes to their health.
“I received the diagnosis actually nine days after his departure for him to satisfy his commitment to the University of Georgia," Hale said. "I started two of the most aggressive forms of chemo back-to-back. It was a lot."
After winning two national championships with the Bulldogs, Ringo was recently drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in Round 4 of the 2023 NFL Draft as the 105th overall pick.
Joining several of his former Georgia defensive teammates, he is ecstatic to join the Eagles.
“I definitely could say it’s a great feeling. A lot of blessings leading up to this point and it was definitely a huge sigh of relief but of course I’m going into another chapter," Ringo said. "We have a lot more ahead of us."
For Ringo, it’s important that even just as an NFL rookie he continues to advocates not only for women’s health, but for women to get the right information when it comes to prioritizing their health.
“It’s definitely important for me to continue to advocate for women’s health because of others that have been in my family’s situation," Ringo said.
He and his mother are also sharing their message with OB/GYN Dr. DaCarla Albright, who said making sure that women make their health a priority is paramount.
“I think it’s just important that women prioritize themselves and their health," Dr. Albright said. "You have to take good care of yourself before you can begin to take care of anyone else."
To check against breast cancer, Dr. Albright said he encourages women to get screened at least once a year.
“Mammogram screening is recommended to begin at age 40, I personally recommend annual screening, but I do encourage every woman to speak with her doctor and decide what’s best for her," Dr. Albright explained. If she has a mass, or her skin changes, bring that to the attention of your physician immediately. Do not wait. It’s very important to be aware of your breast health. Also know that you don’t need family history to have breast cancer."
"In Tralee’s situation she didn’t have a family history and it’s really important to realize that most women with breast cancer don’t have a family history, so it’s really important in paying attention to anything unusual on your exam," Dr. Albright said.
When women learn of their cancer diagnosis, it can be hard on their support system, but it’s important everyone is informed with the right information.
“It was definitely a huge reality check. Before I actually went to college we had seen that something was on her breast at the time and we were in denial, not wanting it to be what it actually was," Ringo said. "The way that we overcame that was continuing to tell ourselves that we were going to be OK, keeping positive energy in the air and continuing to pray on it. I definitely believe that that was a huge factor in us being able to overcome it and being mentally positive."
The support from Bulldog nation was also key in Hale being able to stay positive.
“Bulldog nation got me through some very intense weeks. It was the most humbling and trying time," she said.
She explained the Georgia Bulldogs went so far as to set up an online fundraiser to help cover the costs of her cancer treatment.
"I came to the University of Georgia as a Kelee Ringo fan and I became a University of Georgia fan," Hale said. "I just love the following and the comradery it just comes second to none."
The mother-son duo will continue to educate women on the importance of screenings and prioritizing their health. They recently announced a partnership with Hologic Inc., which is a company dedicated to improving women's health, according to their website.
For more information about their partnership, click the link here.