How Roy “Doc” Halladay Helped Me Through Cancer

In late April of 2013 I began my radiation treatment for breast cancer. I had undergone a mastectomy in December 2012 and was beginning the treatment phase of the disease. The treatment was once a day for twenty eight straight days. For me, this was the most difficult of phase of the cancer as I soon came to understand the determination and fortitude it would take to complete the radiation and to know there were more surgeries ahead.

The task seemed daunting to me, yet I realized that I was truly fortunate as to go from surgery to radiation to later reconstruction. The fortunate part is that two days before my chemotherapy drip the oncologist called me and said I did not need the chemo after all, a late test result and the blessings of God negated that process. So with that blessing in mind, forever humbled by the gift of health that was on the horizon, I began my treatment.

It is now early May 2013 and I am about one third of the way through radiation. The effects of exhaustion and the mental battle of having to complete the treatment every day way starting to affect me. It was early in the baseball season when I saw that the Philadelphia Phillies would be coming up to Fenway Park around Memorial Day, and I sprang into action! I was and still am a life-long baseball fan. I specifically love the pitching aspect of the game, and one of my favorite players has always been Cy Young and perfect-game winner Roy Halladay. Finding out the Phillies would be in Boston to play the Red Sox for a 2-game series May 27-28 was enough for me to realize I just HAD to somehow get to Boston and hopefully meet him. The connection to the Boston Red Sox organization was that my husband Jim was a former employee in the management side of the organization. He was able to secure pregame passes to one of the games and while he could not promise I could meet Roy, at least maybe, perhaps at least I could just see him on the field before the game. It was the carrot that did the trick! For those few weeks of treatment remaining that was all I could think about, even though the radiation had exhausted me to a point where I needed daily rest, it did not matter. I was going to Boston to see my favorite baseball player and tell him (hopefully) how much I loved to watch him pitch! I hung onto that and on May 16, 2013 I completed my treatment!!!

Well, as things go, right around that time it crossed on the baseball news that Roy “Doc” Halladay was injured and he was not coming to Boston. I was so devastated about the news, I could not believe my chance to see him was now gone and I was not sure if or when I would ever get that chance again.  I was not going to be able to tell him that just knowing he was coming to Boston was enough to help me through my treatment and continue to fight for my life. That was all that I wanted and the opportunity was gone.

As it stood, the year 2013 was not a good one for the seasoned and successful pitcher. Shoulder injuries, then finally back injuries forced him to the sidelines for a good part of the year. Then on December 9, 2013 Roy “Doc” Halladay announced his retirement from baseball. I had no solace from this news and wondered perhaps if he would resurface as a baseball pitching coach at some later point in his life. Time would tell.

Then a couple of years ago, I discovered Twitter and found Roy Halladay tweeting about his boys and the new plane he had just purchased. There were intermittent tweets about how he loved to fly his plane and the joy he had in flying. I remember reading some of the tweets of his fans about the plane sharing their joy with the former pitching great. Then this past fall it seemed to me there were more tweets from Roy on his love of flying, like a fighter jet type feeling.   Again, I read some of the tweets from his fan base and while they again shared their happiness for his love of flying, there were some that were of a “be safe” type message.

In the beginning of November I noticed the same type of tweeting both from Roy and his fan base, it was then I tweeted to Roy to please be careful.   On November 7, 2017 it was while I was driving home from a late meeting my husband Jim called me asking if I had seen the news, I reminded him I had been in a meeting and had not seen the news. He did not tell me right away as I was driving, but he mentioned something about Roy Halladay and without another thought said to him, “He died in a plane crash.” I knew without ever had seen or heard anything.

Of course the news crossed recently that Roy had been taking large doses of amphetamines, and that traces of morphine, Ambien, and Prozac were in his system at the time of the crash. That he died of trauma from the accident but was unable to move due to the injuries he sustained and subsequently drowned. While the NTSB continues this investigation and seeks to find ALL of the answerers to this tragedy, I can’t help but feel his loss personally. That in some way these drugs in his system were a tell about how he was suffering both physically and mentally. Something I can completely relate too. So while I looked to Roy Halladay and the possible opportunity to see him as a way to help me through my cancer treatment, I wondered of his pain and who he looked to for help in the days leading up to his tragic end.

So I say, thank you Roy “Doc” Halladay, we never met and you never knew me, but I certainly will never forget you.

Rest well my friend. Rest well.



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