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White Sox Honorary Bat Girl a fervent fighter

White Sox Honorary Bat Girl a fervent fighter

CHICAGO -- If a positive mental outlook counts for anything, then Vanessa Parzatka seems poised to give cancer quite a fight.

Parzatka actually is in her second bout battling the disease, after being diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in 2006. Yet, as she moved around U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday afternoon as the 2014 White Sox Honorary Bat Girl representative -- always with a smile on her face -- it was hard to tell anything was wrong.

One would have never guessed that Parzatka had just undergone chemotherapy Friday.

"I feel good," Parzatka said. "You know what? I'll be OK. I'll keep doing my therapies and hanging in there. I'll be around a while."

Major League Baseball's Honorary Bat Girl program recognizes fans who have been affected by breast cancer and who demonstrate a commitment to eradicating the disease, with each team represented. Parzatka was nominated by her sister, Michelle, who sent along a moving depiction of Parzatka's life affected by cancer.

After the original diagnosis in '06, Parzatka underwent three major surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy before her life became stable, Michelle wrote. The cancer reappearing in February 2013 has been a struggle for Vanessa, her family and friends, and according to Michelle, the bat girl recognition would be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

The White Sox provided four tickets for Vanessa, and her father bought 30 tickets for friends and family to attend Sunday's series finale against the D-backs. Vanessa proudly showed off her pink bat with numerous players' autographs before the game, but took even greater pride in the engraving on the bat with her name and nickname, "Slick", from her softball playing days included.

"This is awesome," said Parzatka, who was a left fielder. "It's quite an experience."

Before bringing out the lineup card with White Sox bench coach Mark Parent, the resident of suburban Homer Glen talked about her love for the White Sox since grade school. She has great appreciation for U.S. Cellular Field, but her favorite memories come from games at old Comiskey Park.

There also was a brief discussion concerning the return of her cancer, including praise for Chicago Beverage, the company where she worked, but currently can't because she is unable to drive.

"They are special," said Parzatka of her employers. "They have been terrific."

When Parzatka heard the words about her cancer coming back, her initial reaction was understandable; she couldn't believe it. 

Her attitude remains upbeat, especially in her Sunday role with her favorite team.

"It's a little severe but all and all, I feel very good," Parzatka said. "And then stuff like this, it's just fun."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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