Monday, October 10, 2016

That Time I Threw the First Pitch

Salt Lake City has a AAA baseball team called the Salt Lake Bees (affilliated with the Angels MLB team where I'm from, yay!). Every year they have a game around Mother's Day called "Paint the Park Pink".  It's a game to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer. I knew this game was approaching because The Huntsman Cancer Institute was doing the fundraiser at the game to raise the funds for research. I saw a few posts and ads about it and thought it was really cool.

Back in April, my social worker sat with me while I received chemo and told me the fundraising coordinator for the event had asked her to nominate one or two women being treated at the Huntsman. She wasn't sure exactly what it would entail, but said it was probably throwing the first pitch. She had thought of me and wanted to nominate me for the game. I was so surprised! There I was, sick and receiving chemo and being asked to do something really cool! I said of course I would love to! Knowing Matt and the boys would love to participate also.

I received a phone call from the coordinator a few days before the game. We worked out the details of my involvement and what we would be doing. If the donors paid a certain amount, they were able to participate that day with the team and the players would wear a jersey with the name of who they were playing for. The coordinator said we could hang out in the press box before going down to meet and speak with the team before the game. Then we would go onto the field so I could throw the first pitch. Then after the game, they wanted me back down there along with the breast cancer researchers from the Huntsman to accept the big check from all the donations.  We were really excited to participate!
It was cool to experience all the behind the scenes stuff. Everyone treated us so kindly and we enjoyed some free drinks!
It had rained earlier in the day and so we got to see them clearing off the field. Probably my boys' favorite part of being in the press box, haha.
Another woman was there with her family and kids. She was about a year ahead of me in treatment. I was encouraged by her words and was happy to see her so healthy (and with hair!). It gave me hope to what I could look forward to after treatment. Her family and my family headed to the locker room to speak to the team. I spoke first. I was announced as a cancer survivor and said "well not yet!" I showed them my bald head and said I had my 12th chemo the night before. They clapped and cheered for me. I continued to tell them how important these fundraisers are. I told them the research done from these donations will benefit women like me. I told them about my family and my diagnosis. I told them how grateful I was for the doctors and researchers at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and how despite such a hard time in my life, I felt so good being treated there. I looked around the small room at their faces and so many of them were emotional. I realized that most people know someone who had or has cancer and how important it is for us to have these conversations and to bring awareness and (I think more importantly...because I think everyone is already aware of breast cancer) fundraising to try and treat metastatic breast cancer. I felt really good after speaking to them. Andrew especially enjoyed being in that room too, he looked super cute with his glove in hand.
Being on the field reminded me of my cheerleading days! The boys loved running around the dirt and saying hi to Bumble the mascot.

Did I prep to throw the first pitch? NOPE! Everybody asked me that when they found out I was going to do it. Then I started to get nervous thinking maybe I should have practiced. I wasn't sure how far the pitcher's mound really was from the catcher and I DID NOT want to come up short or throw it way off. I mean, I have a pretty good excuse for not being at my athletically best, but still!

I'll give credit to adrenaline, I was happy to make it to the catcher. He signed the ball for me and we got to keep the ball. My entire family came to the game. It was so much FUN! Baseball games are meant for families. We enjoyed the atmosphere and watching the players win in their pink jerseys.

After the game I brought Matt, my brother-in-law and cute nephew down on the field with me while we got a picture with the big check. I was so shocked to see they had raised over $28,000 for the Huntsman Breast Cancer Researchers. I met the three researchers and they explained to me how they were planning on using the money. Studying further the HER2 gene and researching further what causes early stages to metastasize. They told me breast cancer research is so expensive which made me so happy to support a fundraiser where 100% of the proceeds go to research.
The night ended with the biggest firework show. I felt really lucky to be chosen to participate in this important event, I think it will be a new family tradition to do every year :)

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