A Shoreline woman who has been fighting cancer for almost 10 years has been named the Seattle Mariners 2012 Honorary Bat Girl, Major League Baseball's annual Mother's Day national day of recognition to raise awareness and support for MLB's Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer® initiative.
Nancy Haunty's first cancer diagnosis was breast cancer in 2002. After successful surgery and treatment, Haunty's cancer went into remission until 2007. When her cancer reoccurred, Haunty had a mastectomy in her affected breast, six months of chemotherapy, then at the recommendation of her doctors, a mastectomy in her unaffected breast, and then reconstructive surgery.
Haunty was cancer-free for two more years. Then, in 2009, she learned she had Stage Four cancer and it had spread to her liver, lungs and spine. Although not in full remission, Haunty says she has responded well to the treatment. Haunty's most recent diagnosis came earlier this year when she learned the cancer had spread to her brain. Two weeks ago, Haunty had Gamma Knife® radiosurgery at Swedish Medical Center's Cherry Hill campus in Seattle. Haunty says the procedure went smoothly and she will have a scan in a few weeks to see how the tumor is responding to the treatment.
In spite of the many surgeries, treatments and recurrences of cancer, Haunty has maintained a positive attitude with the love and support of her husband Jake, family and friends. "Anyone who gets hit by a fastball, you think you can't handle another setback, but you do, and you go on to the next challenge," said Haunty. And she credits her medical team as well. "If you have the misfortune of having cancer, Seattle is a great place to be. I get wonderful care at Swedish and am grateful for the groundbreaking research at Fred Hutch, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and UW Medicine."
Haunty continues to work fulltime and volunteers with local organizations that help breast cancer survivors with financial assistance, caring baskets and group physical activities. She even traveled to Washington, D.C. last year to testify to the FDA in favor of a drug that was effective in her treatment regimen.
Because the Mariners are in New York to play the Yankees on Mother's Day, May 13, Haunty will be honored at Safeco Field on Monday, May 21, the Mariners first game back after a long road trip. Haunty will participate in a pregame ceremony, decked out in her personalized pink Mariners jersey. Accompanying Haunty will be her husband Jake, friend Kelly West, who nominated her, and her in-laws, who are flying in from Ohio for the special event.
Haunty's story of inspiration and hope was chosen from among thousands that were submitted online by breast cancer survivors, advocates and supporters of the cause. One person per MLB team was selected by a celebrity panel of judges and online fan votes. The Guest Judging Panel included MLB players Joe Blanton of the Philadelphia Phillies, whose mom is a breast cancer survivor; Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves, whose aunt passed away from lung cancer; Howie Kendrick of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, whose best friend's mom is a breast cancer survivor; and Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants, whose mom was affected by cancer. Also on the Guest Panel was MLB Network host Chris Rose, who has several close friends who have been affected by the disease; international soccer star Mia Hamm, supporter of the Honorary Girl Initiative with former MLB player and current ESPN analyst Nomar Garciaparra, whose grandmother passed away from breast cancer; actor James Denton of Desperate Housewives, who lost his mother to breast cancer.
Nine-time Grammy award winner Bonnie Raitt, who lost her brother and close friends to cancer, recorded a special video at the MLB Fan Cave to lend her support to the Honorary Bat Girl initiative and the ongoing fight to eradicate the disease. The video, which will run online and in-stadium, can be viewed here.
Also on Mother's Day, hundreds of MLB players are expected to use pink bats by Louisville Slugger, the Official Bat of Major League Baseball, stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo. To further demonstrate their support for the breast cancer cause, players and on-field personnel will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms along with pink wrist bands. Commemorative dugout lineup cards also will be pink.
The Honorary Bat Girl Contest was introduced in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for the annual Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer initiative celebrated on Mother's Day. In 2006, Major League Baseball created the "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" program. Since its beginnings, MLB has continued to grow the program throughout the League and with all 30 Clubs to honor those affected by the disease. Along with MLB licensed partners and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, MLB raises awareness about the breast cancer cause. Game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats from Mother's Day games that have been authenticated by MLB will be auctioned exclusively on MLB.com to benefit cancer research. To learn more about Major League Baseball's charitable initiatives visit MLBCommunity.org.