Servando Carrasco has a very important date circled on his calendar next month.
While the MLS Cup final on November 20 may be marked, it’s not as important for Carrasco as November 18.
That will be the day that his mother, Gloria, will have her five-year check up to learn if she is clear of the breast cancer that struck her back in 2006.
“If she’s clear, she’s clean,” Carrasco said. “We’re waiting for that day and praying for the best.”
This Saturday, Carrasco and his teammates will have the opportunity to recognize those affected by breast cancer as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Sounders will wear pink ribbons, use pink towels and play with a commemorative pink MLS ball when they face the San Jose Earthquakes in the regular season home finale.
It will be a soothing moment for Carrasco, who pays tribute to his mother every time he steps on the field with a rugged work ethic reflective of the way she has battled cancer.
“I play for her every single time that I step on the field. She’s the strongest person I‘ve ever met,” he said. “That’s the type of person that I aspire to be.”
He vividly remembers the phone call he got while training in Buenos Aires, Argentina, back in 2006. He was at the Centro Entrenamiento Futbol Alta Rendimiento, a high performance soccer training facility where he was working out before his freshman season at Cal.
“It was emotional to say the least. The person that you love the most tells you that she has stage three breast cancer …” he said, trailing off.
He packed his bags and immediately returned home so he could be close to his mother, supporting the most important person in his life. He had never been touched by cancer before – his grandmother died of cancer when he was just two, but he doesn’t remember her at all. He didn’t know how to respond.
“Just be there for me,” Gloria told him.
And that’s just what he did.
He got started at Cal and the soccer coaches were understanding of his situation and allowed him time away whenever he needed to take his mother to a treatment. He made a point to be there with her while she fought the hardest fight of her life – insisting on supporting in person and not just over the phone.
“To see the rock of your family be vulnerable … the first thing you imagine is the worst. It’s a difficult position because you don’t know what to do or how to do it,” he said. “She was such a warrior during the whole process and I admire her for it.”
Now in his first season in MLS, Carrasco is honored to have the opportunity to show support for others who have been affected by breast cancer. Not only will he be doing so in front of a national television audience on Fox Soccer, but also in front of the over 57,000 in attendance at CenturyLink Field in what will be the largest attended Sounders FC regular season match.
“Just little things like wearing the pink ribbon and seeing everybody wearing pink - it’s a reminder that we can’t take things for granted,” said Carrasco, sounding much wiser than his 23 years. “A checkup with a doctor can change your life in that instant. She confronted it with such courage and that’s the way I want to live my life.”
For more information on Breast Cancer Awareness, visit www.komenpugetsound.org.