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Honorary Bat Girl Thompson revels in day

Honorary Bat Girl Thompson revels in day

Honorary Bat Girl Thompson revels in day
PITTSBURGH -- The gray clouds blanketing PNC Park, the steady drizzle irrigating the emerald outfield -- none of that was a match for Angie Thompson's radiant smile.

The petite mother of three was in her own little wonderland early Sunday afternoon, strolling through the hidden corridors of the ballpark, sitting on the dugout bench, chatting up Nate McLouth.

For a lifetime Pirates fan, the view behind the curtain was special.

"Never in a million years did I think I'd ever be here," said Thompson, who most definitely deserved special.

For every Major League team on every Mother's Day, there is an Honorary Bat Girl. But never has there been a more fitting honoree on a day dedicated to both moms and Breast Cancer Awareness than Thompson.

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She is a mother of three and a breast-cancer survivor, and those two roles meshed soberingly in mid-2010, when she was diagnosed in the latter stages of her pregnancy with her third child.

The way Thompson dealt with the disease and the required chemotherapy treatments while also fulfilling the full-time obligations of motherhood made her a natural nominee in the annual contest for her brother, J.J.

"He wrote up a story about me and submitted it, without me knowing about it," Thompson said. "Eventually, he told me so I knew it was out there. Then I get a phone call [from a team representative, informing her about her selection], and I'm in shock.

"They just said they liked my story because I was a mom, and I'd fought through it."

Simple words, profound challenges, admirably met.

"My youngest had just been born, and I had to get through chemo and everything else with a newborn, plus my older two," Thompson said, her eyes still welling up with the experience. "I had a lot of help from my family, and especially my husband [Toby]. It was a fight, but we won."

Thompson, on the approximate two-year anniversary of her diagnosis, now has a clean bill of health. Also, a clear view of the value of her experience, which she is eager to impart to other women.

The most basic advice is one they always hear: Regular testing, which enables early diagnosis.

"It was scary, but I was lucky," she said. "Fortunately, it was caught early. Then you must remember that you're not alone, which is the first thing you feel when you're told. You're in this big fog. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. At first, it seems forever away, but it gets closer and closer and you can't give up. You have to find other things to get your mind off it.

"For me ... I had a newborn. I didn't have time to sit and sulk. That made it harder, but also told me there was a reason for me to be here."

There was also a reason for Angie Thompson to be at PNC Park on a gloomy Sunday that quickly turned bright, both the game and her life proceeding as scheduled -- only with a slight delay.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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