05/08/09 10:00 AM ET
Dodgers charity reaches cancer survivor
ThinkCure! helped raise $3 million last year for research
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
The 50-year-old season-ticket holder is a cancer survivor -- not once, but twice.
"Thanks to City of Hope," she said, "I'm still here."
Still here after two bouts with breast cancer. The first, 17 years ago, involved a very aggressive cancer strain. She required six operations and nine months of chemotherapy.
She survived. And thrived. Four years after being diagnosed, she delivered twins, a boy and girl, now 13.
When the children were 7, Victoria was again diagnosed with breast cancer. Five more operations followed, one lasting 15 hours, along with eight months of chemotherapy and a year of physical therapy.
"I'm great," she said. "In June, I will be five years cancer-free. That's a big milestone. And my husband turns 50, so we'll celebrate 100 years of life."
Victoria now volunteers as a speaker and patient counselor for City of Hope. A lifetime fan whose brother played college baseball, Victoria said baseball provided an uplifting diversion during her lengthy recoveries.
"My oncologist, Dr. Stephen Forman, and I would talk about the Dodgers at every appointment," she said. "I would run into him at Dodger games. I'm a season-ticket holder. I would look forward to Dodger games to provide an escape.
"When you are undergoing the kind of treatment necessary to fight cancer, it's nice to look forward to something like a Dodgers game. It's a nice diversion and something to feel positive about."
The Dodgers and baseball are trying to do more than that. Their ThinkCure! fundraising partnership with City of Hope and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles raised $3 million last year for research toward the cure of breast cancer and other forms of the disease.
"We feel that these hospitals are cutting-edge innovators and collaborators in the field of cancer research," said Janet Clayton, president of ThinkCure!. "Many cancer organizations center on one kind of cancer. We believe that advances made in research in one area of cancer can leap over to other kinds.
"Breast cancer, of course, is one of the most common, yet treatable, cancers and City of Hope is a leader in breast cancer research. No question we feel research will benefit breast cancer and elements of the disease common to all cancer."
On May 25, ThinkCure! will field a team in the Acura LA Bike Tour in conjunction with the Los Angeles Marathon. Some of the wives of Dodgers players, including Juliana Ramirez, wife of Manny Ramirez, Maggie Ethier, wife of Andre Ethier, Abbie Blake, wife of Casey Blake, and Tiffany Billingsley, wife of Chad Billingsley, are riding for ThinkCure! For more information on ThinkCure!, visit ThinkCure.org.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.