DAVIE (CBS4) – Miami Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano may know how to toughen up players on the football field, but his wife Jeanette has had to learn how to be tough as friends and family have faced breast cancer.

“My sister is a 12-year survivor, which is amazing. My aunt who was celebrating her first year two years ago, passed away. And I just had a very good friend of mine diagnosed last month,” said Jeanette Sparano

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For Sparano, waging the battle against breast cancer is in her heart.

“My sister Lori is my very best friend. Tony and I were in Cleveland when she was diagnosed. I got myself on a plane and got home to just try to do what you can,” Sparano told CBS4 News Anchor Shannon Hori.

Doing what she could turned into a huge initiative in South Florida, to educate, support and help families survive.

“It touches all of us at one point or another,” Sparano explained.

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Because of that, Sparano and the Miami Dolphins Foundation work hard to make sure they not only back the quest for a cure, but also the families whose lives are rocked by a diagnosis that can be devastating.

“We need to take care of the patient and her whole family,” said Sparano.

The Dolphins do that by providing scholarships to children whose parents have been affected by breast cancer.

“When my sister was diagnosed, her four daughters went through a lot, her husband went through a lot. So we want to be there to support the whole family as well as the cause.”

That support comes naturally to a woman who gives thanks every day for the lessons breast cancer taught her about strength and survival.

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“She set such an example of strength and courage for all of us… for her daughters, for my daughter, for my sons, for our family as a whole. I tell her all the time, I don’t wait for October. Because I’m so grateful every day I still have her,” Sparano told Hori. “I’m so, so proud of her. I’m so grateful to have her here, and I love her so, so much.”