DENVER (CBS4) – A die-hard Colorado Rockies fan has found that her love for the Rockies is helping to get her through a tough period in her life.
Carol Hannon was diagnosed with breast cancer 12 years ago and had to have a masectomy. Then this past May she got the bad news from her doctors that she had breast cancer again on the same side of her body.
Carol is now undergoing chemotherapy treatments and has lost all of her hair. But she’s taking a “let’s just get it done” kind of attitude, and one thing that’s helping her out is a baseball she clutches each time she has to go to the hospital to get probed and poked by the medical staff.
“I went the first time to chemo by myself because I didn’t know what to expect, and I’m kind of just one that wants to go to my happy place, if you will. And so I held the ball, and the minute (the technician) started doing some of the things — because you don’t know what it’s going to feel like the first time, at least I didn’t — it helped me get to my happy place; it made me think good things. And it made the whole day just easy,” Carol said.
The ball is signed by relief pitcher Matt Belisle, her favorite player.
“Him coming out of the bullpen is the greatest, as far as I’m concerned,” Carol said.
The excitement over Belisle is something that didn’t just happen overnight. Carol watches every possible Rockies game she can and sometimes attends games at Coors Field.
At the start of one game she noticed that when the singer was done with the national anthem Belisle was just staying in place with his hat on his heart and his eyes on the flag for a lot longer than everyone else.
“He’s very patriotic,” said Carol, who thinks often of a brother who “gave the ultimate sacrifice” in the Vietnam War.
“I sit up from the dugout and Matt stands with his hat over his heart and he does not move until the flag is off the field. And he does that at home games and he does that at away games that I’ve been to. So it’s not just sometimes.”
Carol said she also admires his athleticism. The reliever is one of the team’s most trusted closers and has pitched in nearly 60 games so far this year.
That’s why she treasures the baseball. It doesn’t just have Belisle’s signature. It also has a message:
Carol, get well soon.
The ball was a gift from Carol’s sister, who was able to get the special signature and message through a friend.
CBS4 was with Carol in a meeting room at Coors Field the other day when Carol thought she was going to be meeting that friend. Instead, her jaw dropped as Belisle, tall and smiling in his uniform, strode into the room.
Then he gave Carol a big hug.
Carol, who has been powering through her treatments with nary a tear, couldn’t hold back this time.
“I am actually touching Matt Belisle!” She shrieked and sobbed. “Omigod.”
The pitcher and the fan then took some pictures together and got to know each other a bit. She explained what the autographed ball means to her. Then Belisle gave her his jersey. He signed it and wrote the words Carol, the stronger the wind it faces the higher a kite soars. I’m with you all the way. Matt Belisle
“I’m in a world where perspective can be thrown out of proportion,” Belisle told CBS4. “And it’s when little kids are asking for your autograph and I remember myself as that kid, or something like this: A situation where I’m fortunate enough to have a fan whose facing some adversity to look at me and say ‘What problems do I have?’ I’ve got nothing. It’s all small things.
“I’m playing baseball for a living and to be looked at on one level with a light shining behind me for some reason in the eyes of fans? If I can give back in any way it’s a tremendous honor. So, it’s a very humbling day and I’m just happy to help somebody and make their day better.”
Carol is scheduled to undergo her final chemo treatment this week followed by five weeks of radiation. She’s ever confident she can beat this thing.
And the next time she goes to the hospital she’ll have two things to hold onto that will help her get to her happy place.