Mother's Day special to Eagles' Benn

Partners in perseverance: Wide receiver Arrelious Benn will be walking with his mother, Denise, a cancer survivor.
Partners in perseverance: Wide receiver Arrelious Benn will be walking with his mother, Denise, a cancer survivor.
Posted: May 13, 2013

Denise Benn spent Mother's Day last year enduring the effects of chemotherapy, trying to treat the cancer that invaded her colon and worried her five sons. One of those sons is Arrelious Benn, now an Eagles wide receiver and in better spirits than a year ago.

One of the reasons is the health of Denise, whose cancer is in remission. On Saturday, one day before Mother's Day, Denise joined her five sons on Team Arrelious, created for the Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure, a 5K walk/run in his native Washington.

"It came to me after the fact that it would be the best Mother's Day gift ever to have all five of my sons walking tomorrow with me," said Denise, who planned to walk even before Arrelious made the plans in March.

Denise's colon cancer was diagnosed in November 2011. She was reluctant to share the news with Arrelious, who was then playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He'd had a difficult time coming to grips with the death of his grandmother while he was a teenager - she had breast cancer and cervical cancer - and Denise did not want him to worry.

When a mass was found, Arrelious Benn refused to believe it was cancer until it was confirmed. His mother flew to Tampa before she started chemotherapy to spend time with her children and try to lessen their concern. Even after the diagnosis, she was reluctant to put a burden on her son. And he didn't want to put more of a burden on her.

"When I was in Florida, away from my mother, I didn't get to see her," Benn said. "I didn't want her to think I was worrying about her. It was enough pressure on her as it is. And then with what happened with my grandmother, having complications with it and passing from it, I did the least amount of talking about it."

The family was happiest during the offseason, when all the children were home with Denise. One year later, the family is even happier. Denise's cancer has been in remission since June. After three injury-plagued seasons with the Buccaneers, Arrelious was dealt to the Eagles in March and will now try to restart what was expected to be a promising career less than three hours from his hometown.

Benn will be in Philadelphia on Monday, when he'll take part in the Eagles' first sessions of organized team activities. But before trying to impress the coaches, he was to spend Mother's Day at home - and the day before that raising money and awareness for a cause that has struck close to him.

"I think I would have done it even if my mom or grandmother didn't have cancer," Benn said. "Because I see how people look, how things turn out. You really take a different perspective on it."


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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