Stage 4 breast cancer survivor is Mariners honorary bat girl

Vanessa Walsh of Federal Way to throw out ceremonial first pitch May 15

A Federal Way mother of three who is battling Stage 4 breast cancer has been named the Seattle Mariners 2017 Honorary Bat Girl. Vanessa Walsh will be celebrated on Monday, May 15, when the Mariners meet the Oakland Athletics. Walsh is scheduled to throw out the game's ceremonial first pitch.

Mother's Day logoWalsh was 37 years old when she was diagnosed in 2014 with Stage 4 Triple Negative breast cancer, a very aggressive form of cancer that is difficult to treat.

Walsh says she felt like her oncologist gave her a "death sentence" when she learned her form of cancer tends to have a lower than average survivability rate.

"When you're told you've got three years to live, and you're only in your 30s and you've got little kids, there were some mental things I had to go through before I said, 'Nope. That's not what I'm going to do," says Walsh.

Walsh found a new oncologist at Seattle's Swedish Hospital who set her off on an aggressive treatment regimen that included chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, radiation, more chemo, and most recently two clinical trials.

Today, her cancer is in remission, but three years since her diagnosis, Walsh recognizes that her fight isn't over.

Walsh's battle with cancer is just the latest adversity she has overcome. In 2010, with two small children and a baby on the way, Walsh's husband, Brian, a Federal Way police officer, died suddenly of a heart attack.

Once she was diagnosed, Walsh was forced to step away from an 18-year career in the Air Force Reserves. She turned these two blows into action by becoming an advocate for the rights of surviving spouses to receive death benefits, even if they remarry, as well as posting on social media about her struggle with cancer and the need for early detection.

"Every once in a while, I'll have an old friend or acquaintance say, 'I went and got checked because of your post.' And I think that's really cool if it can save someone's life just by giving out information," says Walsh.

Walsh and her three children, ages 19, 11 and seven, will be at Safeco Field on Monday, May 15 as the Mariners and Major League Baseball celebrate her determination to beat cancer.