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Listach extra grateful on Mother's Day

Listach extra grateful on Mother's Day

WASHINGTON -- Third-base coach Pat Listach wants people around the world to be aware of breast cancer. That's why he is running in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on June 5.

There is a reason Listach has an interest in finding a cure. His wife, Cari, battled the disease and is currently in remission.

"We try to do whatever we can to make people aware of this disease and try to raise money for research, so eventually one day we could find a cure," Pat Listach said.

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Cari found out she had breast cancer during a routine checkup in November 2005. She had postponed two checkups, waiting until baseball season was over. (Pat was the hitting coach for Triple-A Iowa at the time.) Cari figured everything would be OK.

It wasn't.

Cari calls the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer the worst day in her life, as she anticipated the worst. The first thing she thought about was her two kids from a previous marriage.

A few hours after finding out she was ill, she looked at her then-9-year-old son, Jacob, who was sleeping. She said to herself, "God, don't take me from him yet, because he will never remember me."

"We didn't know what to expect -- what type of treatment, what kind of surgery that had to be done," Pat said. "It was just a scary time for everybody involved, mainly for her. It's a situation you don't know."

Pat wasn't the only one who stayed strong for Cari. She had the support of her uncle, William George, who was then a professor of medicine at Baylor University. George made sure that Cari had the proper treatments.

"I had the love and support of Pat," Cari said. "I know Pat leaned on my uncle a lot, because Pat didn't know what to expect or what the next move would be. Pat and my uncle were both there. What I was going through, Pat was going through just as badly. The cancer wasn't just mine. It was his, it was my children, it was everybody. It affected everybody."

After being diagnosed, Cari had a mastectomy before going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments. When her hair began falling out, she decided to let Pat cut the rest of it off. When she went out in public, she wore a wig.

"Everybody says your hair is your crowning glory. I always had a lot of hair," she said. "I fought that one, because everyone said, 'Cut your hair, be prepared. It's going to fall out.' I thought it was not going to fall out. Pat cut my hair. I just didn't want to go to a hair salon where I normally go."

Now cancer-free, Cari will join Pat in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. But instead of running the race like her husband, she will walk.

This is not the first time the Listachs will be involved in the race. The first time occurred on Cari's birthday in 2006. The highlight of that race was watching Jacob cross the finish line.

"I waited at the finish line for Jake and Pat, and the first one I saw cross that finish line was my son," Cari said. "He had that little sign on his shirt that said, 'I'm racing for my mom.' Pat came right up behind him."

Pat is not thinking about being first to the finish line this year. He is simply thankful that Cari's cancer is in remission.

"She is doing good. She goes back every three months to get her blood drawn and goes once a year for bone scans in her entire body. Every blood test and every scan has showed no sign of cancer."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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