Kennewick cancer survivor is Seattle Mariners' 2016 Honorary Bat Girl

Betsy Haffner will be recognized on May 15 as part of MLB's "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" program

A Kennewick woman who is battling Stage IV breast cancer is the Seattle Mariners' 2016 Honorary Bat Girl. Betsy Haffner was nominated by her son Eric as a way to "honor her for her courage and bravery." 

Haffner, who is a mother of five, was first diagnosed with cancer in 1994 at the age of 39. She had a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and five years of hormone treatments, and was pronounced cancer-free.

Near the end of last summer, as Haffner was preparing for the school year (she teaches third grade at Richland's Badger Mountain Elementary School), she learned the cancer had returned. She is now undergoing chemotherapy and hormone therapy for metastatic breast cancer.

As Honorary Bat Girl, Haffner will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels game at Safeco Field on Sunday, May 15.

Haffner calls herself "a bit shy," and is nervous about being the center of attention. But she says she's looking forward to her role as Honorary Bat Girl if it helps bring attention to the fight against metastatic breast cancer.

"There are a lot of amazing women out there who fight this disease every day for both long and short periods of time with only one way out. We need research for cures as well as awareness. I didn't even know what it was until I got it myself," said Haffner.

Without a cure, the best someone with metastatic breast cancer can expect is to manage the condition with treatment.

In his nomination, Eric Haffner noted that his mom is facing her future with "unimaginable contentment," and that she meets every challenge with "dignity and fearlessness and lifts up our entire family in the process."

Haffner describes their family-mom, dad, five children and 13 grandchildren-as "multi-generational Mariners fans." Betsy says her husband and son are "bordering on fanatical."

Mark and Betsy were married in 1977, the year the Mariners were founded, and over the years, the family has bonded over games at the Kingdome and Safeco Field, listening the Dave Niehaus, watching Ken Griffey Jr. come up in 1989 and retire in 2010.

Haffner says the Mariners have been a way for them to "connect things that we love, each other and the game and the Mariners. Put them all together, it's really special," she says.

Haffner was chosen by a panel of judges that included Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor.

MLB introduced the Honorary Bat Girl program in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for the annual "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative. In seven years, thousands of unique testimonials have been submitted and millions of fan votes have been cast. Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer is a Major League Baseball initiative supported by its charitable partners, Stand Up To Cancer and Susan G. Komen. The initiative raises awareness about breast cancer, while also raising funds to support breast cancer research.

For more information, please visit HonoraryBatGirl.com.