SABATTUS — Today is a big day for Cathy Holt.

In addition to being honored as a mother and grandmother, the ardent Red Sox fan will be the 2012 honorary bat girl at today’s game against the Indians. (She loves the team so much that she has a Red Sox tattoo above her ankle.)

Holt, 49, of Litchfield, is a breast cancer survivor. All Major League Baseball teams have designated one “bat girl” to honor breast cancer survivors. Holt was nominated as the Red Sox’s bat girl by her only child, Megan Moody of Sabattus.

The family found out last week Holt won the spot. She’ll take part in pre-game activities, will be honored during an on-field ceremony and will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. 

“I keep thinking, ‘Pinch me.’ I can’t believe it!” Holt said, adding that she’s been working on her throw.

Being the Red Sox bat girl is a fitting tribute to her mother, said Moody, who describes her as her best friend, “a loving, good-hearted person. She does a lot for the cause.”

Holt participates in cancer walks, relays and other fundraising activities. She swaps phone numbers with others diagnosed with breast cancer to offer emotional support “from someone who’s been there,” Moody said.

Holt works at Lewiston District Court and is an involved grandmother of her daughter’s two young children, Nathan and Natalie.

Her world changed in November 2008, when she got a diagnosis of breast cancer. An annual mammogram detected a spot. Further tests showed it was between stages 2 and 3.

“It was very frightening,” Moody said. At about the same time, she found out she was pregnant with Natalie. “I wondered, ‘Is she going to be able to meet her grandbaby?’ How do I explain this to my 2-year-old?’” Her son and her mother “were tight since they day he was born. He’s all about Nana.”

She and her mother have always been close, Moody said, but news like this “you realize what you could be losing.”

A few days before Christmas that year Holt underwent a mastectomy and had lymph nodes removed. From December to the late summer she received other  treatments, a hysterectomy, breast reconstruction and four rounds of chemotherapy. “She lost her hair,” Moody said. “She had my stepdad shave her head. She was pretty sick.”

Through it all, “she was pretty much the rock for everyone,” Moody said. “She held it together better than anyone did. She didn’t want us to see her fear.”

Holt said she worried about everyone in her family. Taking care of others “is what we mothers do.”

After the surgeries and treatments, it took a while for her to get her energy back, Moody said. Today, Holt works full time, and on most days picks up her grandchildren at day care before it closes, because Moody and her husband don’t get out of work on time. “Thank God for Nana,” Moody said.

Growing up, Moody described Holt’s mothering style as open. “I could go to her and talk to her about anything. But when it came down to have to discipline me, she could do that, too. She is the type of mom that I would want to be for my kids.”

Holt said she drilled into her daughter the importance of honesty. Good times to talk to children, she said, are during car rides and meals. “Those are two times you can get a lot out of your kids.” She said she was “terrified” when her daughter became pregnant at age 19, but she and her husband, Darin, have built a good life with two beautiful children and a new home. “They are hardworking. I’m so proud of her.”

Moody said she holds similar parenting styles as her mother. She wants her children to grow up “always knowing they have someone there for them who loves them no matter what.”

Going through the physical and emotional stress of cancer changed Holt, her daughter said.

“She never had a tattoo until she got diagnosed,” Moody said. “When she had reconstructive surgery, she had a pink breast cancer ribbon tattooed on her chest.” Her mother then added a small moon and sun tattoo inside her wrist, recognizing how lucky she is to see the moon at night and the sun in the morning.

Most recently, Holt added the Red Sox tattoo, leaving space to add the year the team wins the next World Series.

Moody said she’s changed, too. She used to take for granted “that she’s always going to be here for me, until the diagnosis. It was a wake-up call. This can happen to anyone at any time.”

Her advice to those who have mothers: “Do not take your mother for granted. You never know. “

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Megan Moody’s nomination letter:

“I am nominating my hero, best friend and mom, Cathy Holt. She was diagnosed with Stage 2-3 breast cancer in November 2008 just weeks before I found out I was pregnant with my second child. Two days before Christmas, she underwent a 9-hour mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. She spent the holiday in the ICU, comforted by many visitors. Shortly after the recovery of her mastectomy, she had to undergo four rounds of chemotherapy. Through all of the treatments and five surgeries, she continued to not only fight to beat the cancer, but (to) go to work through it all, despite how terrible she was feeling.

“Now, every year since her diagnosis, she has headed up teams for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer as well as the annual Relay For Life for the American Cancer Society, raising thousands of dollars for the cause.

“Just recently she has been diagnosed with lymphodema and has to wear a nylon sleeve from her knuckles to her shoulder every day for the rest of her life.

“She has been a devoted Red Sox fan since the 1970s, even sporting a Red Sox tattoo on her ankle with the dates of recent World Series winnings (leaving a space open for their next win!). Winning “Honorary Bat Girl” would mean the world to her and everyone around her who has been supporting her. So, please vote for my mom!”


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