Get to know the Nationals 2016 Honorary Bat Girl: Corinne Irwin

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Corinne - Opening Day 2015

Major League Baseball announced the winners of the 2016 Honorary Bat Girl contest last week, which recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and who demonstrate a commitment to supporting the fight against the disease.

The Honorary Bat Girl for the Washington Nationals is Corinne Irwin of Washington, D.C. She will be recognized on NatsHD and will be announcing play ball before the team plays the Miami Marlins on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

Corinne was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2012, and endured five surgeries, 18 weeks of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation. Throughout treatment, Corinne and her husband watched the Nationals’ 2012 postseason run. Corinne is a four-year cancer survivor and is now an advocate dedicated to providing support for other women battling the disease. During her treatment, she set up a blog to let her family and friends know about her progress and how she was doing physically, emotionally and spiritually, which she now shares with newly-diagnosed women.

“I can carry that with me every day…to remember this really is a wonderful world, full of wonderful people who are very caring and pull for you whenever you need it,” said Corinne.

Corinne now works to raise awareness of Lymphedema and how it affects many survivors, and makes chemo caps for Knots of Love, a charity that distributes caps to cancer treatment centers throughout the country.

The Nationals are inspired by Corinne’s strength and positivity, and wanted to get to know her better…

Who’s your favorite Nationals player?

Oh no- I have to pick! This is so hard. Can I say a few? I’ve got such a soft spot for the 2012 players who are still with the team: Jayson Werth, and Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Gio, and Strasburg, Ramos and Danny, because I really did get to know the team that year, and I just love watching them all play.

Have you always been a Nationals fan, or did the 2012 postseason really “get you on board”?

We’ve always been fans; we were actually at Opening Day in 2005. My husband was a big Senators fan, and I must admit, even though I grew up here, I really didn’t know about the Senators (also because I was too young). We’ve both been going to games since the team came back. So, I say we’ve always been fans, but in 2012, we got to see so many games because I was sick. Watching them on the television upped our bonding with the team.

What are some of your favorite hobbies and what do you like to do in your free time?

I’m an avid gardener and especially interested in native plants and sustainable gardening, and I volunteer with organizations like the Anacostia Watershed Society to do environmental work. I’m really excited about the 11th Street Bridge Park, which of course is going to be right near Nats Park. I’m excited for the environmental angle of that, and also the equitable development angle.

For cancer-related things, I crochet my caps, and also do blankets for the neonatal intensive care unit for the same organization, Knots of Love. For me, it’s just a small way to give back.

I started doing it because, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, one of my cousins, who unbeknownst to me had been making chemo caps with Knots of Love for years, made and sent me five chemo caps. It was just one of the early blessings, and I also crochet, so I thought, why not? I started making them every time I had a chemo session, because that takes 5-8 hours, so I would just make caps, and I’ve done it ever since. It’s a small thing, but I also know how important it is when you’re sick, to get something that helps you feel beautiful, and covers your bald head, and makes you feel loved.

How has being a breast cancer survivor affected your outlook on life?

Really positively. I think anyone who goes through a severe illness is really happy for the life they have, and I certainly am. It was amazing how friends and family, and extended friends literally around the world and literally of every major world religion were pulling for me and praying for me through this illness.

You know, even if things hadn’t turned out as well as they did, to be able to experience that was wonderful. And I can carry that with me every day from now on to remember this really is a wonderful world, full of wonderful people who are very caring and pull for you whenever you need it.

What is the advice you give to women who were recently diagnosed with breast cancer?

The biggest advice I have to somebody who was recently diagnosed is to breathe, and to know that most women survive breast cancer today, and to have faith in that.

There’s going to be a whole lot of information that comes at you in that first month. I tell them just to trust that it’s going to get better after that first month, and it won’t be so overwhelming. And, to pay attention to making the decisions you need in that first month. But any decision you don’t really need to worry about yet, just set that aside, so things like: what if I have a reoccurrence? Don’t worry about that, because right now you’re just getting diagnosed and treated. Put the long term stuff aside and just focus on what you do need to know now. Write down all of your questions so every time you go to an appointment, you can ask and get answers. But don’t worry too much about questions you don’t need answered yet.

Thank you, Corinne for all that you do and we look forward to honoring you at the ballpark tomorrow!

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