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Los Angeles Dodgers
NL West champs feature true survivors

By Doug Miller / MLB.com

It has touched every level of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball, from manager Joe Torre to pitcher Derek Lowe to manager of ticket operations Desiree Sanchez.

It's the "C" word, the dreaded disease known as cancer.

Although a cure has yet to be discovered, Torre, Lowe and Sanchez are here to tell people that a cancer diagnosis is far from a death sentence. In fact, huge progress is being made every day against all forms of cancer, and there is great hope for people living with the disease.

That was the driving force behind Stand Up To Cancer, the new initiative to fight the disease. Major League Baseball, which already promotes breast cancer and prostate cancer awareness, was the first donor to the new program with an initial contribution of $10 million to help discover a cure.

And as we sit down in our living rooms or at a ballpark to see who will be the next World Series champions, millions of people all around us are fighting much more serious battles against cancer.

Torre, Lowe and Sanchez are just three members of the Dodgers organization who remind us that there's nothing better than standing up to adversity. Their stories are not much different than the ones of those close to us who battle the disease, the ones we root for much in the same way we root for our favorite players under the postseason lights of October.

For Torre, who says he was "scared to death" when he received his diagnosis of prostate cancer in 1999, the most important thing is getting information.

"I am much more aware of the importance of raising money for research, because that's the only way to develop the resources to keep people alive and find a cure," said Torre, who's been standing up to cancer to the tune of nine straight postseason appearances (eight with the Yankees, one with the Dodgers) since his diagnosis.

"I think it's great for MLB to have the ability to raise that kind of money, because it will lead to that much more in the way of advancements. I'm proud to be part of MLB, if for no other reason than that."

Lowe had a similarly scary experience with cancer.

When the right-hander was a member of the Boston Red Sox in the winter of 2002, he found out that a growth on his nose was malignant. He had it removed and was fortunate to come away with nothing more serious than a scar, but the experience motivated him to serve as a role model by applying sunscreen every day and urging others to do the same.

"It's an opportunity to talk to people, to talk to kids," Lowe told MLB.com at the time. "If I can help one or two kids along the way, great. It's an awareness thing. It's more men than anything, saying, 'I don't need sun block. I can bear through it.' But you do [need it].

"You have to worry about your future, which I never did until now. It's an opportunity to talk to people about it. It's something kids should understand, the risk of sun."

A little more than two years after his diagnosis, Lowe stood up to cancer as a member of the historic 2004 World Series champion Red Sox.

And then there's Sanchez, who's standing up to breast cancer with the unconditional support of three children and a mother who also happens to be a cancer survivor.

"I can't be sick," Sanchez told MLB.com earlier this year. "I have three kids I need to raise. There is no way that I can go anywhere; these kids need me. All I could think of was my kids; I have to be here. They are too young to lose their mother."

They haven't lost their mother. Because of early detection and advances that have been made through initiatives like Stand Up To Cancer, she's finishing up chemotherapy and in good spirits.

"It is a scary thing to have to say; it is a scary thing to have to hear," Sanchez said. "If caught early, breast cancer is such a treatable disease now. I don't think it is something that you should be afraid of."

Unfortunately, for every story of resilience and victory over the disease, there is one in which a loved one was not so lucky. On the Dodgers, for example, catcher Danny Ardoin and outfielder Andruw Jones both have seen relatives succumb to cancer.

That's why team owners Frank and Jamie McCourt joined forces in 2007 with the City of Hope and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles to launch ThinkCure, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to raising funds for critical cancer research. ThinkCure is the official charity of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Frank McCourt, who attended the nationally televised Stand Up to Cancer special with Commissioner Bud Selig, told MLB.com that participating in these charities is "what it's all about."

"Like our ThinkCure, this is being done on a national level," McCourt said. "So to stand up is a great, great cause. And we're happy to support that at the Major League Baseball level, and the Dodgers are going to do anything we can as well.

"I think baseball's involvement will bring awareness, it will bring resources and I think working together, we're a powerful and dynamic team."

Doug Miller is a Senior Writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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