Sox' Honorary Bat Girl survives breast cancer

32-year-old Shaika Ocampo threw out first pitch before game Sunday

Sox' Honorary Bat Girl survives breast cancer

CHICAGO -- At the age of 32, Shaika Ocampo was told over and over again she was too young to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

"And I wasn't," said Ocampo, the White Sox Honorary Bat Girl for 2017, who threw out a ceremonial first pitch on Mother's Day at Guaranteed Rate Field. "It don't discriminate.

"Early detection is awesome. Lots of awareness. Talk about it, touch yourself, feel yourself. Just don't be afraid to see if you feel something at a very young age, that it can't be."

Ocampo was first diagnosed with breast cancer on Sept. 17, 2015. Six months out, on Dec. 21, 2016, she was diagnosed a second time.

"With my first one I didn't know what I was walking into, I took everything as it came," Ocampo said. "The second time around, since you know what you are expecting and the anticipation of chemotherapy and all the treatment and all that stuff, it's more scary I would say.

"You don't know if you are out of the woods. You don't know what to expect. You don't know if it's going anywhere else, what's happening with your body. Now you don't feel it's just breast cancer. It's very scary."

After discovering a lump on the left side of her chest, Ocampo has since endured a bilateral mastectomy, eight rounds of chemotherapy and 28 sessions of radiation. Ocampo's positive attitude shines in her dedication to her family and her work with the American Cancer Society in an effort to give others hope.

She called the act of throwing out the first pitch nerve-wracking and very exciting, but felt very blessed to be with her husband and two sons, who are 5 and 3, for Sunday's festivities. Ocampo also is a police officer in the Englewood area of Chicago, but her greatest battle right now is fighting cancer again.

"It's a compromising area because it's very close to my shoulder," Ocampo said. "We are working right now [on how] we are going to do some surgery or radiation to completely finish it off.

"I feel very healthy and very good and ready to fight this thing off. I did it the first time. I'm ready to do it the second time. I want to see my boys become men and play hopefully in a baseball field just like this one I just stepped off of."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.