By: Ari Taylor Nicole “Tank” Hawkins is in a fight for her life! The Seattle Majestics football player (diagnosed with a rare blood cancer) chooses to take her fight to the field with nothing more than her helmet, her pads, and her team.   Nicole “Tank” Hawkins is a rookie for the Seattle Majestics. Standing at 5-foot-7, 260 pounds, she is anticipated to be an unstoppable force on the defensive line. With aggression, passion, and perseverance, nothing gets in her way. For Nicole, football is more than just a game….football is the “medication of choice” that keeps her going. Four months ago, Nicole received devastating news that made her question if her time on the field would be coming to an abrupt end. She was diagnosed with polycythemia vera, a terminal blood cancer, a condition where the bone marrow produces too many red blood cells resulting in the thickening of the blood. Not only can this blood cancer cause intense symptoms like fatigue, itching, headaches, sweating, blurred vision, dizziness, and bone pain, it also has the potential of causing issues like a heart attack or stroke. Tackling Life’s Obstacles One Play at a Time Every day is a fight for Nicole. There are days that she passes out while having a conversation. Other days Nicole’s body is consumed by pain and she “feels like there are hot coals under her skin”. There was a time that even Nicole doubted if she could live out her love for the game. In an open post to her friends and family, Nicole wrote- “Having to make a hard choice. My heart wants to play football in the 2019 season. My mind knows that I need to focus on my health and finding the proper treatment for my cancer…Sadly I will not be playing this year. That being said the Seattle Majestics have already been a great support system. We will see where things go and what opportunities may arise.” In her darkest moment, Nicole’s loving husband, Jason, said the words she needed to hear, “Play the game. Continue to play football.” He encouraged her first love – Football. Nicole also was openly embraced by her team who pushed to talk to their coach. One teammate, in particular, Ashley “Gatorade” Young was instrumental in convincing her to not hold back and play the game. As a result, Nicole disclosed the full diagnosis to her coach, Scott McCarron. Receiving nothing but motivation and unwavering support from her coach and team, Nicole is working hard with the Majestics. Despite such a heartbreaking diagnosis, football is helping Nicole fight. As a Marine veteran, she found it difficult to transition back to everyday life. For Nicole, football has always been an escape and her support system. She found herself searching for unity, a team, and a family. As fate would have it, Nicole’s new family would be football. Nicole’s teammate Allie Campbell has been by her side through it all. Allie and Nicole met playing for a previous team, and ever since their bond has been unbreakable. Destiny would grace them to have the chance again to play together for the Majestics. Traveling an unbelievable 280 miles from Eugene, Oregon to Seattle, Washington for every game, practice, and team event, you can find Nicole’s husband, Allie and their adorable service dog, Tyr in the car as one, happy family. In the Marine Corps, Nicole earned the nickname “Tank” for her spunk, sass, and strength. There was never a task too big or too hard. With the same mental toughness, she would make the choice to look cancer in the eye and push forward. Even with having an oxygen tank on the sidelines and locker room, Nicole is determined to win on and off the field. As soon as the sun rises, Nicole starts the day with none other than a long walk with her dog Tyr and a bowl of oatmeal. Now she works as a Protective Security Officer. After work, Nicole can be found hitting the weights with her teammate Allie. Although the past four months have been tough, Nicole has been able to experience some of life’s most beautiful moments during this time. She married her husband Jason on November 10th to celebrate the birthday of the Marine Corps. Wanting to live in the here and now, Nicole and Jason wanted to get married while they still could. The couple met 10 years ago serving together in the same unit. Through the years, Jason has been Nicole’s best friend and support system. Recently, they bought a house and are enjoying building their life together. Nicole refuses to let her diagnosis stop her. For Nicole, football is the medicine of choice that helps keep her going. Nicole hopes to inspire others with her strength and courage. Just like any other opponent, cancer is something she plans to tackle HEAD ON. In the wake of opposition, struggle, and tragedy Nicole leaves us with these words, “When the weight of the world is on your shoulders there is only one thing to do…scream MORE REPS!”