For Romanski, Breast Cancer Awareness Day holds special significance
“I’m going to get a nice, big pink breast cancer ribbon this offseason,” he explained yesterday. “I just don’t know where I’m going to put it yet. That’s coming soon.”
The ribbon will stand in tribute to his mother, Sheila, who has survived breast cancer three times. The Thunder wore pink jerseys yesterday to help raise awareness for the disease, and the cause was certainly not lost on Josh.
“I think it’s awesome whenever organizations take the time to honor the people who have struggled with the battle, not just against breast cancer, but any type of cancer,” he said.
No matter when the diagnosis comes, hard times surely lie ahead. When you receive the news on the heels of a day that was supposed to be a celebration of the culmination of years of hard work, however, the pain only multiplies.
That’s what happened to the Romanski family in June of 2008, just 20 minutes after Josh got the news that he’d been drafted in the fourth round by the Milwaukee Brewers.
During the celebration, the phone rang again, this time with the news the family had hoped it would never hear again. Sheila’s cancer had returned, and she would need to begin the process of fighting the disease for a third time.
“That was kind of a bittersweet day for us as a family,” he recalled. “I was going to get to start my professional career, but at the same time she was heading into her third bout with breast cancer.”
The first time the cancer popped up, Josh was in fifth grade, at an age when one doesn’t necessarily understand its ramifications and the battle that lies ahead for the patient and his or her family.
“All you know is that mom’s sick. My brothers and sister, they’re younger than I am, so they had a hard time comprehending it, but we got through it. She got through it the first time, it came back a year later, she got through it again, and fortunately it was in remission for another 11 or 12 years.”
Now, in the midst of a career that was nearly blunted early by Tommy John surgery, Romanski is able to count his blessings with the knowledge that the worst day in the bush leagues is far and away better than the best day his mother – or any cancer patient, for that matter – will struggle through.
“It kind of puts baseball second on your priority list, and I think that’s helped me,” he said. If something goes wrong on the field, you can always look back and say there’s other people going through more difficult times. If the worst that’s going to happen to me is giving up runs on a baseball field, then I think I’m going to be OK.”