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Together we’re giant: forgetting about brain cancer for a day

Liz July 22, 2012 Surviving 4 Comments

Which team is the best in Major League Baseball? The San Francisco Giants, of course.

If you’ve read more than a couple posts here on my blog you may have figured out that I am a Giants fan. And lately some of my posts have focused more on baseball than on cancer. But I’m in “survivor mode” now and it makes complete sense for me to write about cancer within the context of my life.

So here is another example of why the San Francisco Giants are the best team in the league.

Me with Bobby Baksa

Giants’ staff reaches out

In early June I wrote about a dilemma: should I be saving for retirement when I have an incurable form of brain cancer with a high mortality rate? The photo caption in my blog post read, “I’d rather be spending my money to see the San Francisco Giants with my best friend and Uncle Bob.” My dilemma hit home with many people in the brain cancer community and generated quite a bit of conversation.

What I didn’t expect was for this blog post to reach some of the folks within the Giants organization, and for them to reach out to me.

Imagine my surprise when I got an email from Bobby Baksa, player and community relations coordinator for the San Francisco Giants:

Our social media manager [saw your blog] and noticed you are a Giants fan. I am sorry to learn about what you have gone through battling brain cancer. I am happy to read that the tumor is stable. I am contacting you to invite you out to watch batting practice and then attend a ballgame.

Needless to say, when I got that message I freaked out, ran around my office like I just hit a home run, and then did a backflip. (Not really, I don’t know how to do a back flip. But everything else is true.)

Me with Sergio Romo

Adults can make wishes too

Sunday, July 15 was like a “make a wish” day for me. I got to enter AT&T Park through the fancy executive office area and travel through secret back doors to make our way out to the field.

Before I knew it I was standing on the field that the Giants call home. I took a million photos and got down in the dugout. (By the way, the seats in the dugout are very plush.)

The best part of the experience was meeting Sergio Romo, aka, the nicest relief pitcher in all of Major League Baseball. Sergio was super smile-ly and signed my baseball [pic].

Romo's new tattoo

Sergio Romo inspires perspective on cancer (with a little help from Frederick Douglass)

I looked at Sergio’s arm and noticed he had just gotten a new tattoo. I asked if I could see it more closely. The tattoo read:

Without struggle there is no progress.

Something about that line, and about me being at AT&T Park because I had brain cancer, really got to me. A lump formed in my throat and I felt emotional. (And also silly about getting emotional over a tattoo on a guy’s arm.)

I didn’t let my emotions get the best of me when Sergio told me a story about helping a little girl with cancer throw out the first pitch at a Giants game. He said the girl was scared and he thought, “How can she be scared when she fights cancer every day? Throwing a baseball is nothing compared to that.”

I looked up the phrase later on and learned it is a reference to a Frederick Douglass quote about emancipation from slavery. (I’m not sure if Sergio quoted Douglass intentionally.)

To me, ‘without struggle there is no progress’ totally applies to cancer. Cancer is a form of slavery. It captures us, and holds us hostage. And if we are lucky enough to be physically freed from cancer, and escape treatment intact, there are parts of us, at times, that are emotionally enslaved by cancer. I don’t want to admit it–because it sounds embarrassingly weak–but I know I am, at times, enslaved.

OK, that got deep. Back to happiness, and baseball.

After all the fun times on the field I got to hang out in the seats and enjoy the rest of the game.

The Giants won 3 to 2 over the Astros, and all was right with the world.

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  • http://twitter.com/the_sdawg SDAWG

    Thanks for this post.  I can relate to your strategy of distracting yourself from focusing on cancer by enjoying life.  It’s the middle of the summer and I’m cranking up the Christmas music and watching my favorite Christmas movies to help me stay upbeat and not dwell on my fears about my upcoming brain surgery.

    The Frederick Douglass quote is going up on my mirror so that I can read it every morning.

  • Pseudo uncle Bob

    I love you Liz

  • Tom H.

    That’s a great story, Liz! Lotsa love to you and your family!!