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Cleveland Indians player ‘steps up the plate’ for cancer patient

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 7:56 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 27, 2021 at 8:08 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A Northeast Ohio woman got the surprise of a lifetime when her favorite Cleveland Indians player hit a home run in support of her fight against cancer.

When it comes to Cleveland baseball, Jessica Atwood’s not your fair-weathered fan.

“Who doesn’t love baseball?” said Atwood. Being an Indians fan is a family affair for Atwood. She said her grandmother and mother were both massive fans of the team.

“We all grew up in Cleveland. We’re Cleveland people,” Atwood told 19 News.

So when spring rolls around, Atwood is usually psyched for the start of season. But this year was different.

“You get that awful phone call that no one ever wants to get,” said Atwood, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in March.

It was a heart-wrenching feeling for Atwood, and even more so after losing her mom to the same God-awful disease.

But Jessica isn’t about to give up. She said she’s ready to do whatever it takes, including: countless doctor visits, numerous tests, and several rounds of chemotherapy.

A Northeast Ohio woman got the surprise of a lifetime when her favorite Cleveland Indians...
A Northeast Ohio woman got the surprise of a lifetime when her favorite Cleveland Indians player hit a home run in support of her fight against cancer.(Jessica Atwood)

“I opted for a bilateral mastectomy,” Atwood said. “In my mind I never had another option but to say ‘let’s fight this.’”

It’s a fight she’s thankful she hasn’t had to go through alone, having the support of her family.

Atwood is a teacher at Fairview High School in Fairview Park. She said she’s also so grateful for the support from her colleagues and students.

“That community has been so supportive,” she said.

Without a doubt, Atwood has a strong support system. But one member of that group is someone she never expected. It’s support that came out of left field or, in this case, right field.

Atwood and her family headed out to Progressive Field Wednesday to cheer on the Tribe, but the ‘play of the game’ was one she never saw coming.

A Northeast Ohio woman got the surprise of a lifetime when her favorite Cleveland Indians...
A Northeast Ohio woman got the surprise of a lifetime when her favorite Cleveland Indians player hit a home run in support of her fight against cancer.(Jessica Atwood)

“Franmil was standing there and start a shouting to my husband and pointing at him,” said Atwood, referring to Indians’ right fielder Franmil Reyes.

Atwood said she was in shock seeing Reyes right in front of her. That reaction intensified when he threw a baseball her way.

“I start crying,” said Atwood.

The words ‘keep fighting, we support you’ written on the ball.

A Northeast Ohio woman got the surprise of a lifetime when her favorite Cleveland Indians...
A Northeast Ohio woman got the surprise of a lifetime when her favorite Cleveland Indians player hit a home run in support of her fight against cancer.(Jessica Atwood)

“I was like ‘oh my gosh that’s so cool,” she said.

But wait, it gets better.

“Then, he walks up to the plate and just knocks one out of the

park. He pointed to me right away, blowing kisses at me. He was like ‘that was for you’” Atwood said.

But hang on, because it gets even better.

“They’re like he wants to meet you,” Atwood recalled. She and her family got a chance to head out on to the field after the game to meet Reyes and take pictures with him. She said Reyes also gave her a signed baseball bat.

“He was one of the most real people and genuine people. It really showed his beautiful soul and personality,” said Atwood.

It was an evening at the ballpark Atwood will never forget and something she’ll keep in the back of her mind as she too rounds the bases, finishing chemotherapy next week.

“And then hopefully I’ll be able to step in to the new path of cancer survivorship,” she said.

If you’ve been recently been diagnosed with cancer or know somebody who is and they’re feeling scared and alone, click here for valuable resources that can help.

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