Suzyn Waldman is recognized as the first woman to hold a full-time major league broadcasting job.
"I can do anything by myself," said Waldman, who has called New York Yankees games on the radio with John Sterling since 2005. "I don't need people."
Her attitude was altered when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996.
"You can't do it by yourself," she said. "It helps other women to see who's out here."
Waldman is one of several judges for Major League Baseball's Honorary Bat Girl Contest. Starting today, Valentine's Day, fans who have been affected by breast cancer, either themselves or by a family member or friend, can share their stories relating to the disease and vote for their favorite testimonials through April 14.
Among the submissions, Waldman and other celebrity judges will select 30 winners (one per team) who will be honored on Mother's Day (May 8). If the winner's favorite team is away on May 8, another May game will be chosen for the honors.
"You think you're alone," Waldman said. "Family members are wonderful, but it's not the same as someone who has has gone through it. The mental aspect of this is awfully important."
Waldman, who has covered the Yankees for WFAN radio or the YES Network since 1987, said she drew strength from former Yankees manager Joe Torre, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre and outfielder Darryl Strawberry, who have dealt with different forms of cancer.
She also was helped by letters from fans -- one woman with whom she is still close today -- and the Yankees, who provided her with refrigerators to store her medication in hotel rooms. She went through chemotherapy but missed very little time away from the team, figuring someone would take her job if she missed too many games.
"Everyone was great once they realized I wasn't going way," she said. "You have to keep going. You didn't have a choice."
According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which has partnered with Major League Baseball for the Honorary Bat Girl campaign, it was estimated that among U.S. women in 2010, there would be 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 39,840 breast cancer deaths. Among the other judges: Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, a lymphoma survivor; Angels pitcher Jered Weaver, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor; and Twins DH Jim Thome, whose mother died from lung cancer.
In two years, about 2,000 testimonials have been submitted and more than 6 million votes have been cast for this initiative.
"Women love baseball and the fact that they can get on the field," Waldman said. "Last year (Yankees manager) Joe Girardi had the winner bring out the lineup card."