Chicago White Sox relief pitch Liam Hendriks was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January. In April, he announced he was cancer free and eventually returned to the pitching mound.
New York Mets pitcher Carlos Carrasco beat chronic myelogenous leukemia in 2019 when he was a member of the Cleveland Guardians. This week, Hendriks and Carrasco are in opposing dugouts, but the cancer survivors will forever be a part of the same inspiring team.
The big league pitchers teamed up to host pediatric cancer patients from Cohen Children’s Medical Center at Citi Field. The special guests visited the Queens ballpark as part of Carrasco’s “Cookie’s Kids” program.
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“It was really nice,” Carrasco told MLB.com. “He came over, and he wanted to do this. There’s a lot of people who can see that [and realize] if we can make it, they can make it, too.”
The kids were shown around the ballpark and given access to normally off-limits areas, such as the dugout and bullpen. They met with Hendriks and Carrasco to hear their encouraging stories of beating cancer.
WHITE SOX CLOSER LIAM HENDRIKS ANNOUNCES HE’S ‘CANCER FREE’ AFTER NON-HODGKIN’S LYMPHOMA BATTLE
The children also received lunch, giveaways and tickets to a future Mets game.
“The one thing I always try and stress is: You’re not alone,” Hendriks said. “Reach out, talk to people. Don’t be worried about talking to a therapist. Don’t be worried about talking to people about it. You remove the stigma of the word ‘cancer.’ The more you talk about it, the lighter you start feeling. It takes that weight off of you.”
Hendriks, a three-time MLB All-Star from Australia, has been on the injured list since June 11 with right elbow inflammation. The 34-year-old threw some pitches off the mound at Citi Field during a simulated game as he continues to rehabilitate his injured elbow.
Hendriks had a cortisone shot last month and was scheduled for a PRP injection. Both were cleared by his oncologist. He mentioned that chemotherapy treatments could have played a role in his injury.
Carrasco missed three months of the 2019 MLB season after his leukemia diagnosis. He returned to the mound and pitched for Cleveland.
Hendriks said the stories that the pediatric cancer patients shared deeply resonated with him.
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“It was great today, being able to talk to him about his stuff, what he went through and kind of relate the stories,” Hendriks told reporters.
“And then to hear some of the kids talk about their treatment plans and everything, it’s always really cool. It takes the edge off. … You’re trying to remove the stigma of going through treatment and not being able to talk about it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.