Writer and fighter: Emily Waldon works through cancer treatments

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Sportswriter Emily Waldon is no stranger to the stories of athletes playing through injuries. She was in a similar place when she covered the West Michigan Whitecaps’ home opener this season – except it’s not an injury she’s been battling.

On the morning of April 12, the same day as the home openerWaldon had an eight-hour chemotherapy treatment.

“This is my eighth cover season (Minor League Baseball) and I’ve never missed a West Michigan home opener,” Waldon said. “I understand that I’m strong enough to deal with this no matter how difficult it gets.”

Just months before her 39th birthday, Waldon was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“They say when you hear the word ‘cancer,’ you pass out,” Waldon said. “And that’s exactly what happened, because it was, ‘Oh my God, what’s my life like now?'”

The fight changed her dramatically, physically and mentally. The chemotherapy was exhausting. She said losing her hair was one of the hardest parts.

“When you have a certain type of hairstyle and you have to let it go against your will, it’s not fun,” Waldon said.

But through it all, Waldon has found strength and a community as she documents her journey on social media.

“You can go through a lot more than you think,” Waldon said. “I’m the type of person where if I go through something I can find positivity and I want others to find it too.”

Even during one of the hardest years of her life, she is still determined to do what she loves the most.

Emily Waldon and Marlee Wierda of News 8.

“Miners kind of sucked me in and it really became a band that I feel like I can relate to a lot with on a personal level,” Waldon said. “Seeing the struggles they go through, and it gave me the opportunity to give them a platform and really tell their stories.”

Waldon has bylines in multiple publications, writing stories that champion MLB prospects. She campaigned for athletes to receive better pay and highlighted the stories of league players.

For everything she did for those in baseball, they wanted to give back.

“She’s just one of those genuine people trying to do good, so she was someone worth paying attention to,” Rob Friedman said.

Freidman is a baseball analyst who runs a Twitter account with the handle @PitchingNinja. He has nearly half a million followers. He connected with Waldon on social media a few years ago. Although he never met her in person, he decided to use her platform to help her fight cancer.

“I immediately said, ‘I know she has done something for others; why don’t we do something for her? Friedman said.

“They texted me and said, ‘We want to do something to help you,’ and sent me a screenshot of a Pitching Ninja shirt they had redesigned in pink,” Waldon said. . “And they called it ‘Emily’s Fight Edition’.”

Friedman said it was one of the most successful merchandise sales he had ever had. Pitching Ninja has sold thousands of shirts around the world, from the United States to Australia, with all proceeds going to Waldon.

Emily Waldon smiles through tears during an interview with News 8’s Marlee Wierda.

“I was speechless. Obviously I got very emotional on a number of occasions, knowing that a lot of people want to acknowledge and offer a show of support, and even now that still makes me emotional,” she said. declared.

Waldon has been inundated with messages of support since her diagnosis. The one she had last week was particularly memorable.

“It was a Detroit area code and I hadn’t saved the phone number. I opened the text message and it said, ‘Emily, I just found out that you are battling breast cancer. Know that I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers,” she said.

Text message from Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila to Emily Waldon.
Text message from Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila to Emily Waldon.

This text came from Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila.

“It was really just an amazing, amazing moment,” Waldon said.

Whether the support comes from the Tigers or from West Michigan baseball fans, Waldon reassures that she is not alone in the fight.

“Even in an ugly season like this, it allows people to see hope, so hopefully my story will do that for people,” Waldon said.

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