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Batting for breast cancer awareness: Congressional women's softball game is back

After a year off because of the pandemic, the Congressional Women's Softball Game is on Wednesday night with proceeds going to Young Survival Coalition.

WASHINGTON — Breast cancer awareness is bringing together rivals on the hill as the Congressional Women's Softball game raises money for young women battling the disease.

The true focus is on the fighters in the stands, like Kim Drew Wright, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2018, when she was 47.

Her representative, Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat who serves Virginia's 7th district, is playing in her name at Wednesday night's game.

Each team member plays for a survivor, fighter, or someone who died from the disease.

Female members of Congress are pitted against women from D.C.'s press corps. The last time the teams faced off in 2019, the press corps won.

Proceeds went to Young Survival Coalition, which helps young people fight breast cancer. 

“It's meant to bring awareness to early-onset breast cancer… and so I'm proud to be playing for Kim," Rep. Spanberger said.

Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz started the game in 2009 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 41.

"After she underwent her treatment and survived it, she asked us if we would come together to play a softball game, to raise awareness. And I said, of course," New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said. "And so that started our journey, not only learning how to play softball, which I did not know how to play before I started. But creating this enormous camaraderie and creating this opportunity to have fun together to do something that really helps others and to leave the partisan politics aside and just get to know each other as women and as teammates."

The goal is to bring women together and remind young women that they can get breast cancer, too -- and they need to be their own advocates.

RELATED: Hospitals saw alarming drop in mammogram appointments during pandemic

“Breast cancer, especially when it becomes metastatic, is not just a physical disease," Wright said. "It is very emotional and mental as well when you're given a dire prognosis, especially if you have children.”

Wright has three children, one of whom is fighting her own chronic illness -- pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome.

"That's my job right now is to be there for them," Wright said, choking up.

She said right after her daughter received her diagnosis, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I did chemotherapy, I had a double mastectomy or a bilateral mastectomy. I had lymph node removal, removal surgery," Wright said. "And I had radiation also hormone treatment therapy. So the doctors thought we had gotten it all.”

Unfortunately, they hadn't. She said not long after, she was told the cancer returned as triple-negative.

Now, at age 50, she said it's metastatic.

Credit: Kim Drew Wright
Kim Drew Wright, 50, is battling metastatic breast cancer.

"My youngest is a freshman in high school, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to see him graduate, but with my diagnosis, it's actually unlikely that I'll be able to so that's hard," Wright said.

She said she's creating memory books for her kids so they can have tangible memories of all the good times they shared and know how much she loves them.

Her message to other women is to fight for themselves.

“Advocate for yourself, to educate yourself. It's your body, it's your life," Wright said. "I would also say that prevention is key. So catching it early, of course. For me, it was I had dense breast tissue. And I wonder if I'd had an MRI of my breast done if that would have caught the cancer when the 3D mammogram did not 10 months earlier."

Typically, the game happens in the summer, but this year, they pushed it to October, which coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness month.

It's $10 a person and starts at 7 p.m. at Watkins Recreation Field.