McDowell said she selected City of Hope because she had worked there as a temporary employee while in college and was comfortable with the facility's expertise in treating cancer patients.
When diagnosed with Stage IV inflammatory breast cancer more than five years ago, McDowell said she was told the survival rate was five percent, and even if she survived, she could not have children because of the severe dosage of radiation and chemotherapy needed to fight the cancer.
She has a healthy 13-month-old son Christian to prove both predictions wrong. With husband Charles, the couple has plans for another child. They married between her treatments.
"They told me I couldn't have children because the radiation would kill the eggs, and that if I could, I'd have to wait at least two years after the radiation," McDowell said. "I was pregnant two years to the day. The doctors can't explain how it happened. I just left it up to God.
McDowell attended UC Davis as an undergraduate, received her Masters degree at the University of LaVerne in leadership and management, and now combines her education and life experience as a motivational speaker and founder of the Kommah Seray Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation, which works in collaboration with City of Hope.
"I'm also on the speakers' bureau for City of Hope," she said. "I not only provide help to patients, but I encourage mammograms for early detection. That's a key."
McDowell has been cancer-free for five years.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.