By way of Roch Kubatko of masnsports.com, it’s come to my attention that Brian Matusz and the Orioles are hosting a special guest at this afternoon’s game against the Minnesota Twins at Ed Smith Stadium. The Casey Cares Foundation is sending Carly Shulman, a 15-year old Baltimore area girl (and her family) to today’s game; Carly suffers from Hodgkins Lymphoma. Shulman will get a private guided tour of the Ed Smith Stadium complex prior to this afternoon’s game againt Minnesota. This is one of those things that you can put in the category of “more important than baseball.” Let me be clear; I love baseball, which is part of why I cover it here at Birds Watcher and the Fansided Network. However I think that the most ardent player, coach, or fan would agree that there are some things that are more important. A life-threatening illness such as cancer is one of them. We all have people in our family or people that we know who have fallen victim to something along these lines…
…in my case this particular case hits home on a very personal level. My father, Nick Vadala, was diagnosed with Hodgkins in June of 2006. To make matters worse at the time, my grandfather had just passed away from cancer in his own right about a month prior to this. Needless to say, these events sent ripple effects through our entire family. The underlying sentiment throughout that entire summer in our family was that the doctors were telling us that they had caught the cancer fairly early, and they gave him about a 90-95% chance of survival. We were further encouraged by the fact that he was diagnosed in June, and his treatment didn’t commence until sometime around September 13th. If the chance of survival was less or it was a more urgent situation, they would have begun treatment right away, right?
Needless to say, cancer not only takes it’s toll on the patient, but also the family. My father went through eight sittings of chemotherapy (every other week). On day three after chemo he’d fall victim to flu-like symptoms such as intense fatigue, stiffness and soreness, drowsyness, etc. It got worse each time, and by the end of that 16-week period the time between his recovery from the previous chemo treatment and the next one was next-to-nothing. His comment was “they have to kill me to save me.” A couple of months after chemo had concluded he was “zapped” a few times with radiation, and that was pretty much the jist of his treatment. In 2011 he reached the five-year plateau which is a benchmark of sorts for cancer patients. For the most part his life, and that of our family, has largely returned to normal; for that, I’m eternally thankful.
As tough as that period of time was for my father and for our family, I know that we “got off easy” in a sense. There are so many other people that suffer from cancers that are much more intense than that (along with other diseases), and I in no way want to imply that my family’s case is more important than that. However needless to say, it takes it’s toll on all involved. It’s tough to see a person that you think of as stronger than iron go through something like that. I thank God everyday that he made it through, and that it drew our family closer together. I remember my Uncle (my Dad’s brother) calling me several times throughout the treatment and telling me that my sisters and I should know that if anything ever happened to my father he’d always be there for us. (My Uncle also baptized me, and in Italian families that relationship does carry some clout.) I’ll never forget that, nor will I forget the thousands of people that have researched Hodgkins and various cancers over the years, all of whom helped to save my father and people like him.
So from the Vadala family, a big thanks goes out to the Orioles and Brian Matusz today. I know that the O’s do a lot for charity in the greater Baltimore area as it is through Orioles Reach, and for my money I’d like to try to make an effort to recognize that a bit more. However this is a charity that’s very close to my heart, and as the child of a Hodgkins survivor I can’t say how much I appreciate the team and Brian Matusz doing what they’re doing. To that point, I wish Carly Shulman a very speedy recovery, and I hope that her and her family are getting the love and support that they need to get through this difficult period.
Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala