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Deputy Fire Chief Promotes Breast Cancer Awareness As Padres’ ‘Bat Girl’

Above: Lorraine Hutchinson, center, is shown with her family during a ceremony on May 11, 2014, at Petco Park to honor her as one of Major League Baseball's 31 honorary bat girls. The honor is announced on Mother's Day to promote breast cancer awareness.

Aired 5/13/14 on KPBS News.

Lorraine Hutchinson, a 24-year veteran of the San Diego fire department and a breast cancer survivor, was named the San Diego Padres' 2014 Honorary Bat Girl for her efforts to raise awareness about the disease.

Matt Hoffman

The back of Lorraine Hutchinson, wearing her honorary pink bat girl baseball jersey, is shown at the San Diego Padres game on Mother's Day, May 11, 2014. She is a deputy fire chief and breast cancer survivor.

The Padres made a San Diego deputy fire chief an honorary bat girl on Sunday as part of Major League Baseball’s commitment to promoting breast cancer awareness.

Lorraine Hutchinson, who has been with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department for 24 years, was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2012, four months after she learned she had diabetes.

“I knew about breast cancer, but I had no family history of breast cancer,” said Hutchinson in an interview before the Padres took the field to face the Miami Marlins.

She eventually had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and reconstructive surgery, and is now cancer free.

“I was lucky it wasn’t aggressive and was caught at an early stage,” said Hutchinson, a native of Greenville, South Carolina, who has lived in San Diego for the past 35 years.

She was happy to spend Sunday at Petco Park with her family – she has one daughter, two stepchildren and one granddaughter – but was especially happy to use her “Honorary Bat Girl” title to encourage breast cancer awareness.

“Early detection is a key to survival. … That’s getting your mammograms and advocating for your health,” she said.

After she went in for her first mammogram, she was told to come back for a follow up. She said she waited a few months, thinking “I don’t have a family history of breast cancer, there is nothing wrong.”

“That’s where I made my mistake,” Hutchinson said. She later learned that not having a family history is no guarantee you won’t get breast cancer.

Now, she said, “My job is to educate women and share my story.”

That’s what she did Sunday, as Major League Baseball continued a practice started in 2009 to have each team hold an Honorary Bat Girl Contest and name a winner on Mother’s Day to educate the public about preventing breast cancer.

All of the base pads and game balls had pink accents, the color that highlights breast cancer awareness. The Padres didn’t wear pink for the game because Sunday the team sports camo uniforms to honor the military, but the Marlins did wear pink shoes and use pink bats.

Hutchinson and her family got to watch the game, which the Padres won 5 to 4, from a luxury suite.

She called the whole experience Sunday “the best Mother’s Day present ever.”

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