ALTON - For Linda Schafer, it was a powerful evening at the Alton River Dragons’ Breast Cancer Awareness Night on June 7, 2024.

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Schafer, a survivor of Aggressive Ductal Carcinoma, threw the first pitch of the game. She shared that she was proud to throw the ball all the way to the catcher, though she was surprised that St. Anthony’s asked her to do it.

“It kind of befuddled me that they had asked me, because what qualifies you as a survivor? How long do you have to go? It's only been a year,” Schafer said. “I was honored. I was humbled. But I’m game.”

Schafer received a breast cancer diagnosis in April 2023. Under the care of the OSF St. Anthony’s and Moeller Cancer Center team, she underwent a lumpectomy and several chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

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It means a lot to her to represent the St. Anthony’s team now. She previously underwent a nephrectomy at St. Anthony’s and knew that she could trust them with her cancer treatment. She was especially excited when she learned that Dr. Manpreet Sandhu was her oncologist, as Sandhu had served as her hematologist for three years before.

“Everybody has the same equipment. Why should I go anywhere else?” Schafer said. “St. Anthony’s was there when I had my kidney taken out. Dr. Sandhu was there when I had a blood disease. Nobody knows me better than her.”

As an avid baseball fan, Schafer had a unique perspective at the River Dragons game. When she’s not teaching special education, she works as an usher at Busch Stadium during the baseball season. She was excited to throw the first pitch and share the experience with her St. Anthony’s team. When she realized she had St. Anthony’s and OSF Mueller Cancer Center backing her, she knew she would be okay.

“It was a gift from God,” Schafer added. “A weight lifted. I can handle this. I can do this.”

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