Honorary Bat Girl is Kennewick Cancer Survivor
A Kennewick woman who has twice battled breast cancer is the Mariners 2016 Honorary Bat Girl. On May 15, she will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and will spend time pregame with Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor.
Betsy Haffner, who fought cancer the first time in 1994, recently learned the disease has returned, this time as Stage IV metastatic breast cancer.
Haffner was nominated by her son Eric as a way to “honor her for her courage and bravery.”
After her first diagnosis over 20 years ago, Haffner had a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and five years of hormone treatments. She was cancer-free until late last summer. Currently, she is undergoing oral chemo and hormone therapy. If her doctors can hit on a combination that keeps her condition stable, she could stay on it for the rest of her life. Haffner says there are women on the online support community she belongs to who have survived with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer for 10 or more years.
Haffner says she is nervous about her pitching skills (she quips that she “throws like a girl”), but several family members have volunteered to give her some pointers.
Haffner, who has five grown children (four girls and a boy) and 13 grandchildren, says baseball is a big part of their lives. She describes them as “multi-generational Mariners fans,” and says her husband Mark and son Eric are “bordering on fanatical.”
Although they live in Kennewick, Betsy says she and Mark come over to Safeco Field several times a summer. They have been fans since 1977, when the team was founded, and over the years, the family has bonded over Mariners baseball.
“It’s kind of a special thing to connect a lot of things that we love, you know, each other, and the game and the Mariners. Put them all together, it’s really special,” says Haffner.
Haffner admits that she’s nervous about being the center of attention, but she says it will be worth it to bring attention to the fight against metastatic breast cancer.
“There are a lot of amazing women out there who fight this disease every day for both long and short periods of time with only one way out. We need research for cures as well as awareness. I didn’t even know what it was until I got it myself,” said Haffner.
In his nomination, Betsy’s son Eric noted that his mom is facing her future with “unimaginable contentment,” and that she meets every challenge with “dignity and fearlessness and lifts up our entire family in the process.”
MLB introduced the Honorary Bat Girl program in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for the annual “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” initiative. In seven years, thousands of unique testimonials have been submitted and millions of fan votes have been cast. Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer is a Major League Baseball initiative supported by its charitable partners, Stand Up To Cancer and Susan G. Komen. The initiative raises awareness about breast cancer, while also raising funds to support breast cancer research.
For more information, please visit HonoraryBatGirl.com.