Mariners' Honorary Bat Girl hopes to raise awareness

New mom currently undergoing chemo for Stage 4 cancer will throw out first pitch

Mariners' Honorary Bat Girl hopes to raise awareness

SEATTLE -- Kathleen Sutton, a new mom from Mill Creek, Wash., will serve as the Mariners' 2015 Honorary Bat Girl on Mother's Day and throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Sunday's 1:10 p.m. PT game against the A's at Safeco Field.

Sutton was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, when she was pregnant last October. Before she could begin chemotherapy, an ultrasound on her unborn baby showed the cancer had spread to her liver and was Stage 4, which is considered incurable.

Sutton had one round of chemotherapy while pregnant and gave birth to a healthy baby boy on Nov. 18.

One week later, Sutton underwent surgery and a battery of tests showed the cancer had spread not only to her liver but to her bones, too. Since then, she has undergone weekly chemotherapy treatments with baby Spencer in tow.

"He comes with me," Sutton said. "We hang out. He takes a nap and I watch TV."

Although Sutton is nervous about throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the game, she hopes to raise awareness of her rare cancer.

"If I had heard about inflammatory breast cancer and its symptoms before, I would have gotten it checked out sooner and caught it before it became Stage 4," she said. "Everyone thinks breast cancer and thinks to look for lumps, but there are no lumps with inflammatory breast cancer, and no one has heard of it or knows its symptoms, so they don't think to look for it."

Sutton credits her husband, Mike, with helping her through the whole ordeal. Despite the chemo, Sutton has gone back to work baking wedding cakes for the Lake Union Café Custom Bakery.

"I'd like to let people know that because you have an incurable disease doesn't mean you have to stop living," she said. "You don't have to be a 'Debbie Downer.' You can still be you and live your life."

Major League Baseball introduced the Honorary Bat Girl program in 2009 to raise additional awareness and funds for the annual "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative celebrated on Mother's Day.

On Sunday, Mariners and Athletics players and coaches will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms along with pink wrist bands. The game will feature a pink-stitched Rawlings baseball, and many MLB players also will use pink bats. Many authenticated game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats from Mother's Day games will be auctioned exclusively on MLB.com to benefit the fight against breast cancer.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.