White Sox Bat Girl champions importance of advocacy

White Sox Bat Girl champions importance of advocacy

CHICAGO -- When Peggy Kupres first was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, she received a picture drawn by her then 5-year-old nephew.

"I said to him, 'What is this?' It looked like a tornado. He said, 'It's a quiet storm,'" said Kupres, who recounted the story while standing on U.S. Cellular Field prior to Sunday's 3-1 win over the Twins. "I had a journal and that became the cover of my journal, because the journey was a quiet storm.

"So many feelings. The wind is knocked out of your sails. When I found out, I knew what that meant."

Kupres, who is from Chicago, celebrated her 15th year of cancer remission this past February and celebrated again on Sunday as the 2016 White Sox representative of the Honorary Bat Girl Contest. Every Major League team has a representative, which recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and who demonstrate a commitment to supporting the fight against the disease.

This nomination came from her husband, George, who was one of the many family members in attendance near the White Sox dugout. The couple has a special White Sox connection, with the two first meeting in the picnic area at old Comiskey Park some 40 years ago.

"Oh my gosh, it's a great honor," said Kupres before throwing out one of Sunday's ceremonial first pitches. "It's an honor to be here and represent other breast cancer survivors. We've been Sox fans our whole life. But the biggest honor is to represent other breast cancer survivors."

Her husband's nomination describes how after Kupres underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy, she changed her career from operating room nurse to manager of the Advocate Christ Medical Center for Breast Care and then the Cancer Survivorship Program Coordinator. Currently she is research nurse coordinator and survivorship coordinator at South Suburban Hospital.

She has created several "pink" events for cancer survivors and community members over the years to help them navigate their cancer journey. She also worked tirelessly with numerous cancer organizations, and is a compassionate advocate for cancer patients and their families.

"I'm very active in the American Cancer Society in advocacy. Advocacy is huge," Kupres said. "We won't get the funding that we need, we won't get the legislature we need passed to protect cancer survivors if we don't advocate.

"Through my job, I'm able to counsel people. I'm constantly writing senators and the governor on up to the President when different bills are coming across to, please God, think about them."

Both Kupres' mother, Betty Tunney, and her sister, Marky Kay Tunney, were lost to cancer. The family has a brick dedicated in their memory outside of U.S. Cellular Field and a hero inside.

"Everything goes so quickly that if I can help one woman a day get through it, I feel like I've done my job," said Kupres, who has a healthy 33-year-old daughter and 31-year-old son. "So my jobs that I have since cancer have been the most rewarding things I've ever done in my life."

Authentic game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats and other gear from Mother's Day games will be auctioned exclusively at MLB.com, with proceeds benefiting the fight against breast cancer. The complete Mother's Day collection -- which includes the special caps and jerseys being worn by players on Sunday -- is available at the MLB.com Shop.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.