Cancer survivor Lopez named honorary bat girl
SAN DIEGO -- In 2009, Sandra Lopez was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. Three years later after a brief period in remission, the Chula Vista native was re-diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and given five years to live by her doctors.
And yet, on Sunday there was Lopez, beaming from ear to ear as she was honored as the Padres' honorary bat girl at Petco Park.
"It's just amazing, and it's an honor," Lopez said. "I was not expecting this. It's so special, because this will be my 10-year anniversary as a survivor. I would never have thought that I'd be alive to even be here."
A lifelong Padres fan, Lopez is the mother of three and the sister of six siblings. She celebrated Mother's Day with her family on the field prior to the first pitch of the Padres game against the Cardinals.
She was introduced to the Petco Park crowd as approximately 100 fellow survivors lined the bases, and she noted the importance of the efforts made by Major League Baseball, the Padres and the community.
"There's still hope," said an emotional Lopez. "I still have a chance. We still have a chance. I'm just thankful to be here."
Mother's Day is particularly special for Lopez, whose sister Karla surprised Lopez by shaving her head on Mother's Day 2009 in a display of solidarity.
This November, Lopez will walk for the 10th time in the Komen's Race for the Cure. Her fundraising has helped contribute $50,000.
For Mother's Day, all players are wearing newly designed caps with uniforms that feature a pink ribbon. Louisville Slugger will donate proceeds from the sale of their pink bats -- which are stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo -- to Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer. MLB will again donate its licensed uniform royalties through Mother's Day apparel to Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer (which is celebrating its 10th season).
• Shop Padres Mother's Day gear
Eight different Padres position players used pink bats for Sunday's game, including Travis Jankowski, an active member of the team's community efforts. On Saturday, Jankowski was one of a handful of Padres to take part in Rady Children's Hospital's Celebration of Champions, a race that raises funds for critical cancer support programs. A day later, Jankowski spoke to the importance of raising money and awareness to battle breast cancer.
"The Mother's Day part of it all is huge," said Jankowski. "Any time we can wear something to help find a way to fight cancer, we're excited to do it, and it means a lot."