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Rockies' Bat Girl a symbol of embracing life

Rockies' Bat Girl a symbol of embracing life

Rockies' Bat Girl a symbol of embracing life
DENVER -- Alma Hubersberger stood behind home plate at Coors Field with her husband of 48 years, Lynn, and basked in the mere size of a Major League playing surface Monday night.

"You don't realize how big the field is until you're down there," Alma Hubersberger said.

It was one of many gigantic feats that she didn't realize was possible several years ago, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after moving from Pueblo, Colo., to the Denver area.

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A supportive family and caring doctors convinced her that the diagnosis was not a death sentence. Since undergoing a treatment plan that included an experimental radiation procedure, Hubersberger has been cancer-free for 3 1/2 years and has returned to an active lifestyle that includes water aerobics, bowling, daily walks and a part-time job.

Hubersberger is the Rockies' winner of the 2011 Honorary Bat Girl Contest, a campaign to recognize baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrated a commitment to fighting the disease.

She was 63 at the time of the diagnosis. She said her family -- in addition to her husband, she has two sons and five grandchildren -- were instrumental in giving her the push she needed to regain health.

"I thought I was done," Hubersberger said. "I didn't want the chemo treatment. But my family talked me into doing it. The doctor recommended it and my family said if there is something out there to treat it, you need to do that. Then if it comes back, you've done everything you can."

The Rocky Mountain Cancer Treatment Center in Littleton, Colo., placed her in a study of 300 patients. Instead of having her undergo radiation treatments of an undetermined length of time, she underwent radiation for five days, twice each of those days, six hours apart. She also would undergo four chemotherapy treatments.

"I signed up for a water aerobics class a week after I had my first chemo treatment," Hubersberger said. "The water has always relaxed me, so I thought that would help me. I couldn't go the week I had my chemo treatment but the week after I would be in the water. My treatments were four weeks apart. I would be in there for three weeks. I couldn't go for a week after treatment."

"It is with honor that the Colorado Rockies recognize Alma for her courage and determination once she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her dedication to her health and happiness is something that we should all make a part of our daily lives, just like Alma has done," Rockies vice president of community relations Jim Kellogg said in the announcement.

"It's exciting," Hubersberger said. "I'm a Rockies fan. It's just exciting to be a part of the organization. I feel like they're honoring me and I'm honoring them by being there."

The Honorary Bat Girl program was introduced in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for the annual Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer initiative celebrated on Mother's Day. Hubersberger is one of the 30 winners, one for each Major League team. She was among more than 1,500 entrants, with the winners selected by more than a half-million fan votes on www.HonoraryBatGirl.com and a panel of celebrity judges.

On Sunday, Mother's Day, hundreds of players used pink bats stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo. To further demonstrate their support for the breast-cancer cause, players and on-field personnel wore the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms along with pink wrist bands. Commemorative dugout lineup cards also were pink. Game-used pink bats from Mother's Day games will be auctioned exclusively on MLB.com at a later date to raise additional funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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