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Cardinals honor courageous survivor on Mother's Day

Kathy Day named Honorary Bat Girl after fight with cancer

Special to

ST. LOUIS -- Kathy Day has fashioned an amazing 6-0 record against the toughest opponent of all.

The 53-year-old Evansville, Ind., resident came out a winner in six separate battles with cancer over the past 17 years, a mark that impresses St. Louis manager Mike Matheny.

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"People like that are amazing," he said. "You can't imagine how tough that must be to keep going through something like that."

Matheny knows first hand. His grandmother, Luella Keefer, of Leon, W. Va., is also a six-time winner in the cancer fight.

Day, a lifelong Cardinals fan, was selected as the St. Louis Cardinals' Honorary Bat Girl for Sunday's game against the Colorado Rockies. Major League Baseball has selected one Honorary Bat Girl for each of the 30 teams. The honorees all have inspiring stories about how they've battled against breast cancer.

Day had three different bouts with breast cancer, each time she fought off the disease. She has also whipped throat cancer, tongue cancer and melanoma since first being diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in September 1996. At one point, Day had a softball-sized tumor removed from inside her rib cage.

A mother of two, Day says her cancer is in remission for now. She goes in for tests every four months and her most recent exams indicate that she is cancer-free. If all goes well with her next trip, she will only have to go in for tests twice a year.

"I couldn't have gone through all this without my family and my faith," she says. "I've had a lot of people there for me and that's made all the difference."

Like anyone who battles cancer, Day suffered through good days and bad days. She recalls missing a game during the 2006 World Series against Detroit because she was so weak from chemotherapy treatments, that she could not make the five-hour round trip to St. Louis.

"That was tough," she said. "I tried to talk my husband into letting me go, but I knew I probably wouldn't be able to make it."

Day, looking healthier than many people her age, threw out the first pitch prior to Sunday's game. Her near-prefect toss capped off a dream afternoon for the lifelong Evansville resident, who attends between 12 and 15 games per year at Busch Stadium.

Her husband, Jeff, along with son Kevin, 34, and daughter Kelly, 36, lead a support group that includes five grandchildren.

Her entourage was in attendance Sunday.

"The is like a dream come true," Day said. "I couldn't be happier."

Day received a handful of gifts from the Cardinals organization including pink MLB merchandise.

But she admitted that her biggest Mother's Day present was to be able to spend the afternoon with her family and friends at Busch Stadium.

Steve Overbey is a contributor to

St. Louis Cardinals