Hutch News Stories

Seahawk Earl Thomas’ parents visit Fred Hutch

Debbie Thomas, cervical cancer survivor, met Dr. Denise Galloway and discussed HPV vaccine
Debbie Thomas and Dr. Denise Galloway
Debbie Thomas, mother of Seahawks' free safety Earl Thomas III, talks with Dr. Denise Galloway. The NFL star's 2-year-old daughter, Kaleigh Rose, listens in. Photo by Bo Jungmayer / Fred Hutch News Service

Most Seattle Seahawks fans know Earl Thomas III as the finest free safety in the game. But to his parents, Debbie and Earl Thomas Jr., he’ll always be “Little Earl,” their miracle child. The proud couple visited Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center on Friday to meet Dr. Denise Galloway, whose work helped pinpoint human papillomaviruses as the cause of nearly all cervical cancers.

Debbie Thomas is a cervical cancer survivor who famously chose to risk death from the disease 28 years ago rather than undergo a hysterectomy. Two years later, cancer-free, she bore a son, who has brought joy to legions of Seahawks fans.

Galloway explained how giving the HPV vaccine to boys and girls before they become sexually active could spare women around globe from the agony of cervical cancer. “Some parents won’t allow it,” said Debbie Thomas, “and that is crazy.”

Dr. Denise Galloway and Debbie Thomas
Dr. Denise Galloway explains the worldwide incidence of cervical cancer to Debbie Thomas. It kills one woman every two minutes around the globe, she said. Photo by Bo Jungmayer / Fred Hutch News Service
Earl Thomas Jr., his wife Debbie, and granddaughter Kaleigh Rose
Earl Thomas Jr., his wife Debbie, and granddaughter Kaleigh Rose, in the lobby of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Photo by Bo Jungmayer / Fred Hutch News Service

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Last Modified, October 28, 2019