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Chicago Bears visit patients undergoing chemotherapy

Defensive end SheMcClell(left) linebacker James AndersChicago Bears sign autographs for Joe Kramer Tuscol Ill. during visit Cancer Treatment Centers AmericMidwestern

Defensive end Shea McClellin (left) and linebacker James Anderson of the Chicago Bears sign autographs for Joe Kramer of Tuscola, Ill., during a visit to Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion. | Dan Moran/Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 10, 2013 2:26AM

Like many patients at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), Linda Rucker came to Zion from across the country — in her case, Highland Hills, Ohio. So she can be forgiven if she didn’t quite recognize two Chicago Bears when they paid her a visit on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Upon being introduced to linebacker James Anderson and defensive end Shea McClellin, Rucker was able to briefly take her mind off her chemotherapy infusion treatment.

“Oh, who do you play this weekend?” she asked.

“The Vikings,” said Anderson, joking adding “you’re not a Vikings fan, are you? I was going to say, ‘We have to go now.’”

Anderson and McClellin delivered similar laughs and light moments as they worked their way through the infusion wing, where dozens of patients are hooked up to intravenous lines for hours at a time.

Their visit to Midwestern Regional Medical Center on the team’s first day off of the 2013 season came in advance of this weekend’s game against Minnesota, which is being sponsored by CTCA and the Urology Care Foundation to raise awareness for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

CTCA spokeswoman Mary Alice Horstman said the center has joined an Internet campaign at and will donate $1 for each of the first 10,000 people to sign a form pledging to support cancer research.

Horstman noted that the pledge can be taken by men who agree to talk to their doctor about prostate cancer screenings and women who agree to encourage the men in their lives to get screened.

“It’s all about awareness, and getting men and the women who love them to schedule a doctor’s appointment,” Horstman said.

Midwestern Regional is no stranger to the Bears, having brought in former tight end Greg Olsen in 2009 for a Breast Cancer Awareness Month event.

Tuesday’s visit, coming two days after the Bears’ season-opening victory over Cincinnati, saw hospital staff lining the hallways with cameras and cheering Anderson and McClellin as they walked from floor to foor.

The two players also shared quiet moments with patients and their caregivers, including Nancy Smith of Azle, Texas, who was in the middle of a three-hour treatment. Her boyfriend, Brian Carlson, said the visit was a nice surprise after a rough period.

“We came here on Sunday night. Everybody else gave up on us, told us there was nothing else they could do,” he said after Anderson and McClellin signed autographs for Smith’s children.

“We haven’t seen that smile in a long time,” Carlson told them. “Thanks guys — you really made her day.”

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