April 9, 2014
A whole list of emotions surrounds the beginning of a new season. Joining a Division I program and about to begin spring practice just increases the excitement, expectations and will to get to work on the field. But for current Missouri State senior catcher Stacia Boeckstiegel, that enthusiasm came crashing down.
"It was the day before I came back from winter break," said Boeckstiegel of learning about her mom Janet's breast cancer diagnosis in 2012. "She sat me down and explained to me that she had breast cancer. That was a wake-up call for all aspects of my life."
As with any diagnosis of cancer, the outcome is usually in constant question. Upon hearing the news, Janet says she could see the terror in Stacia's eyes, knowing that one of her teammates had just lost her mother to cancer.
Stacia returned to Missouri State for the 2012 spring semester and began preparations for her first season in a Bears uniform. Although she was here on campus, her mind was elsewhere filled with worry for the health and well-being of her ailing mother.
The 2012 season was difficult for Stacia, both on and off the field. She admits to struggling in the softball realm that season, but in other aspects of life, she was growing immensely.
The diagnosis drew the Boeckstiegel family closer as they all pulled for a full recovery for Janet Boeckstiegel. Stacia and her brother, Ryan, strengthened their relationship with a constant line of communication that kept Stacia abreast of conditions, expectations and gave her a sense of comfort.
The frequency of calls home increased from Stacia, grateful for the continued opportunity to have her mother on the other end of the line. Janet promised to be open about the whole process and helped ease Stacia's mind so that she could try to focus on softball and school.
After seeing her mother fight through the battle with cancer, Stacia was relieved. Having had a teammate who wasn't so lucky helped Stacia to realize the importance of all the little things. She says she respected the fact that her mother was still here and is still thankful for every day that she sees her mother.
Going through the process of watching a loved one battle cancer has strengthened Stacia. She is one of the leaders on the softball team. Her respect for life and its luxuries has made Stacia a loving teammate and one her teammates can look up to both on and off the field. Janet says she can see the growth in Stacia as a person and an athlete having gone through the emotional roller coaster associated with the process of recovery.
"I look at my mom as a hero," continued Stacia. "She fought through it like it was no big deal. She never let anybody know that she was hurting and continued to work through the chemotherapy. It made me truly respect the fact that I still have my mom."
Janet was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2012. Luckily it was caught at an early stage because of a routine mammogram, something Janet encourages all women to get. She underwent chemotherapy, had a double mastectomy and is now cancer-free.
The Missouri State softball program will raise awareness for breast cancer at its Pink Game on Sunday, April 13 in the 12:00 p.m. series finale against Indiana State at Killian Stadium. The Bears will wear pink uniforms and Janet Boeckstiegel will throw out the ceremonial first pitch to honor breast cancer survivors and those who are still afflicted or lost their battle. Admission to the game on Sunday will be free and donations will be collected for the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks.