Editor's Note: This article was originally written in October of 2015, but is being republished for the team's 2017 Crucial Catch game. Beau Allen's mother and grandmother will help hold the flag during the national anthem before the Eagles take on the Cardinals this Sunday.
One of the first things people notice about Beau Allen is his long hair.
Coming down past his shoulders, he wears it a variety of ways on gameday. Sometimes he keeps it down, covering the nameplate on the back of his Eagles jersey. Other days he ties it back in a ponytail.
"I'm going to donate it eventually," he laughed. "I don't know if I'm quite ready for that."
But, arguably his best hairstyle yet came in 2014 during the team's game against St. Louis. The nose tackle chose to braid his locks and finish off the look with a pink bow. He did this not only to take part in the Eagles' Tackle Breast Cancer game, but also to support his mom, Susie, a breast cancer survivor.
She's the reason he grew his hair in the first place, and now, he's thankful his mom has been cancer-free for 10 years.
Allen remembers the night he and his siblings found out about their mom's diagnosis, and when he reflects on that time, he knows just how scary the moment was for him and his family.
"I was like 11, 12 years old and just really naïve. I didn't really understand the severity and just how serious this situation was," Allen said. "We had a family meeting and my parents were real down and emotional. They'd just found out obviously and they told us. You don't really understand when you're that young. You really don't understand what it's going to be like until you see your mom being sick, going through treatment, losing hair."
After learning the news, Allen vividly remembers how adamant his mom was about taking a nice family photo. At the time, he didn't understand why.
It was because she wanted one last family photo before beginning chemotherapy. Shortly thereafter, the entire Allen family shaved their heads, all coming together to support their mom.
On Monday afternoon, the Eagles, along with the Center For Grieving Children, helped paint stadium seats to support breast cancer awareness ...
"To be honest, they sheltered us from it pretty heavily. She just didn't want us to know how serious it was when we were kids," Allen said. "I admire her a lot for that, how strong she was going through all that. You don't really think about that stuff until you're way older."
Although his mom doesn't want him to share the very personal details of her battle, she was the person who encouraged him to speak out about her experience. The more people talk about breast cancer and share their knowledge, the more awareness is raised.
"What she said is if her story and what she went through can help anybody or raise awareness or provide comfort and support for a mom, a grandmother, or a someone that's in a similar situation, then she's all for it," Allen said.
Allen's mother was diagnosed with lobular breast cancer, a form that is often harder to detect. She described it as being like a spiderweb, and even when doctors believed she was healthy, Susie remained vigilant. That is what she wants women to take away from her story.
"I didn't have a lump in my breast. My skin felt different to me in one spot, just a little thicker," she explained. "I went to the doctor and I had a mammogram. Nothing showed up. I then had an ultrasound. Nothing showed up.
"They thought I was being a little alarmist. They wanted me to wait six months and redo the mammogram. I demanded a biopsy immediately because I am a registered nurse and know better. My biopsy showed up as lobular breast cancer that had already spread to my lymph nodes."
Had she not been persistent, she may not be here today.
Recognizing that he has the ability to make a difference by sharing his mother's story, Allen does all he can to help the cause, including speaking with children who have also been affected by a loved one's diagnosis.
"The position I'm in right now is I have the ability to help out kids and for lack of a better term, maybe kids that are going through it distract them with something happy, just hang out with them," Allen said. "You just want to do as much as you can to reach out and be there for a family or a kid that's in a similar situation, just talk with them about what you experienced or tell them positive stories about how everything turned out alright."
With this year's Eagles Tackle Breast Cancer game next week against the New Orleans Saints, Allen is still deciding how he's going to represent his mom. Last season's hair ribbon will be hard to top, but the nose tackle is sure he'll come up with something even better.
His family will be in attendance that day, and the game is sure to be a very special one for all of them. Allen's mom is healthy and active, but there are others in the world today who sadly are not. Allen knows that for those people, the Tackle Breast Cancer games mean so much more because they're opportunities to bring awareness and help end breast cancer.
"You see everyone in pink and everyone coming together is awesome. Just how much support and awareness come out of the event is great," Allen said. "It's very understated. People don't realize that kind of awareness raises money, helps research. It's a chain of events that can help. Obviously, that research helped save my mom's life. That can help raise awareness for different research, different medications, get more funding for programs and doctors that can help save other people. It's not a little thing."