WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — On Thursday night the Yankees unveiled their newest bat girl. But it’s how she got to the mound — and her amazing fight for life — that is so moving.
Dayna Varano had been practicing for weeks and said the Yankees were going to have to yank her off the pitchers mound.
“Oh, I don’t really want to throw the ball. I just want to stand here, until you remove me, drag this out as long as possible,” Varano told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu.
This die-hard Yankees fan was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at just 39 years old in 2007. She fought the disease — through mastectomies, chemo and radiation. And during treatment she focused on fundraising for other families, even when friends asked her to wait until she was better.
“Cancer doesn’t wait for anybody. It didn’t wait for my kids to get big before they got their mommy and it’s not going to wait for me to feel better before it gets the next person,” Varano said.
Every closet in Varano’s home is filled with new donated toys for children that have a parent facing cancer.
“We put toys wherever they fit, so these toys are ready if I get a call,” Varano said. “Am I going to sit back or am I going to be heard? And that’s just my big-mouth personality and I started fundraising while I was in treatment.”
“This is what I can do for you and I’m going to do it and I’m going to get the results and she does and has made such a huge impact, I think. You can make a huge difference as one person and she has proved that,” daughter Alexa Varano said.
Varano’s childhood friend, Kimberly Frost, nominated her for the bat girl contest after being blown away by her positive spirit.
“We did walks while she was ill. She was the one yelling back at me, ‘keep up! Keep up!’” Frost said.
Her youngest children, just 6 and 8, have grown up knowing all about the challenges of breast cancer. They said Thursday night’s honor for their mom means everything.
“I’m so happy. That’s all I can say. I’m so happy,” Luca said.
“I’m happier,” Siena added.
And so is their mother, whose latest scans, show she’s cancer-free.
“The honest thing I just tell girls is that you’re going to be okay. Is that the truth? Nobody can predict the future, but I can tell people wholeheartedly that many of us are surviving,” Dayna said.
“We’re close to curing breast cancer and eradicating this disease forever. I feel it. I know it. I sense it and I scream it. We just have to make it happen.”
Dayna Varano is one of 30 honorary bat girls — one for each Major League Baseball club.
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