Softball Team’s Supportive Journey Through Breast Cancer
In the face of a breast cancer diagnosis, A Triumph of Unity: Softball Team’s Supportive Journey Through Breast Cancer Janet Mitchell found strength and unwavering support from her softball team, helping her overcome this daunting challenge. In this inspiring story, we delve into Janet’s remarkable journey, highlighting the power of camaraderie and resilience in the world of senior softball.
Team Spirit From the Start
Janet Mitchell, a proud Maryland resident, has always been synonymous with softball. Her journey on the diamond began at the tender age of nine. And she’s remained a steadfast member of various teams ever since save for a brief hiatus during the pandemic. Janet’s athletic lineage, including three sporty brothers and a sports-loving mother, nurtured her love for the game. Her mother’s words, “Go out there and play!” resonated deeply, dismissing any gender-based limitations.
A Decade of Success: The Maryland Roadrunners
Janet’s softball journey reached new heights when she joined the Maryland Roadrunners. A senior softball team with an impressive track record. Over the past decade, they consistently graced the medal stand at the state level and dominated the National Senior Games, often clinching the gold. Janet emphasizes that their success was not merely due to star players but rooted in their remarkable team unity and continuity.
“Incredibly, we have 12 players who have been together since 2005 in the Roadrunners,” she shares. “We don’t have a big softball organization with multiple teams near us like in some parts of the country. There are more available players in those areas, so we have tended to stick together. We are so successful on the field because of our positive, supportive chemistry.”
Their unity transcended age, with half the team eligible to move up to the 70+ division, yet they chose to remain together as a family of sisters. It’s a testament to their unwavering bond.
The Unforeseen Challenge: Battling Breast Cancer
Janet enjoyed a healthy life, albeit with her fair share of knee surgeries, like many athletes. However, in early 2018, her world was shaken when she received a breast cancer diagnosis. Just five weeks later, she made the courageous decision to undergo a bilateral mastectomy, opting to avoid a lifelong prosthetic.
While this was undoubtedly a harrowing experience, Janet felt blessed to have a support system that never left her side. She recalls, “I was never alone. There are women on my team and many of my age in the softball community who have had the same experience, so I was able to get advice before the fact, and the support afterward has been great.”
The softball community, known for its competitiveness on the field, proved to be an unshakable foundation of friendship off the field. Janet found herself embraced by a community of athletes who walked every step of her cancer journey with her.
Back to the Diamond: A Motivating Force
For Janet, the desire to return to the game played a pivotal role in her recovery. Softball was not just a sport; it was an integral part of her identity. She recalls, “It’s part of who I am, and I needed to get back out there.” The team’s camaraderie, which extended beyond the field, provided a motivational anchor. They traveled, played, laughed, hiked, and supported each other through thick and thin.
“With them by my side, I have no fears about whatever might come my way – we’ll handle it as a family,” Janet asserts.
Just three months post-surgery, Janet embarked on an adventure, hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back with a 35-pound backpack. Her determination was unwavering, buoyed by her doctor’s approval, who was not just a medical professional but also a fellow hiker. This experience was a testament to Janet’s resilience, preparing her for her triumphant return to the softball field.
A Bright Future Ahead
In March of the current year, Janet received heartening news from her oncologist. She would no longer need medications after five years, and her prognosis was promising. With her eyes set on the 2025 National Senior Games in Des Moines, Janet, an outfielder and team manager, is eager to continue her softball journey.
Her parting words beautifully encapsulate the essence of her team’s success, “We’ve had a good run for sure, and it’s been fun. We have such a good time it makes the playing part easy.”
In Janet’s story, we find a powerful testament to the strength of unity, the resilience of the human spirit, and the enduring bonds forged on the softball field. Her journey through breast cancer serves as an inspiration to all, reminding us that, even in the face of adversity, we are never truly alone when we have a team by our side.