Baseball, Family and Beating Cancer

Chad Bettis Shares the Story of the Toughest and Happiest Year of His Life

PHOENIX - "I was so nervous."

In four words, Colorado Rockies' pitcher Chad Betties could have just summed up the feeling of pitching in Major League Baseball, but he wasn't. 

"I was like ‘Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. All these things could go wrong,'" laughed Bettis, who was describing his feelings the moments before he first met his now wife, Kristina Bettis. 

The two met at a bar in Old Town Scottsdale. Bettis was in town for Spring Training, and not looking for any socializing outside of his friends and teammates. But Kristina happened to walk by, and his life was never the same. 

"Essentially we talked for three and a half, four hours," smiled Bettis.

"Yeah the whole night," continued Kristina.

"The whole night."

"Like best friends."

Eight months later, the two were engaged during winter of 2014. Kristina acknowledging it was "not that long, but we just knew."  That next spring, Bettis broke into the major leagues with the Rockies. 

In 2014, Bettis pitched in 21 games, allowing 25 earned runs, 13 K's, and an ERA of 9.12. His ERA dropped significantly to 4.79 in 2016, where he pitched in 32 games, with 138 strikeouts. 

That year, 2016, another life-changing event happened when Kristina found out she was pregnant with the couple's first child, a daughter, whose name will be Everleigh. 

During a routine checkup for Kristina, things took a sharp turn in Bettis' direction when the doctor suggested "checking himself" for cancer. 

"In high school you learn about breast cancer and how it’s common among women, uncommon for men. You never really hear anything about testicular cancer," said Bettis. 

That night, Bettis checked himself for testicular cancer, finding a lump that raised concern. The medical staff dismissed it as nothing to be worried about, but the lump didn't subside. 

It was on their anniversary night, while at dinner, not long after a doctor's visit to inspect the lump, Bettis received a phone call from his doctor confirming a diagnosis of testicular cancer. The Bettis duo stayed positive and focused, with Chad's eyes on the upcoming season. This was fall of 2016. 

"It’s still the offseason you know and if we caught this early enough there won’t be any repercussions and I’ll still be ready. And that was the plan," said Bettis. 

Thanks to another patient cancelling their own surgery, Bettis was able to get in for surgery less than two weeks after his diagnosis to remove the cancer. A successful surgery seemed to put the cancer in the past. Bettis still planning to return to baseball. 

But plans change. The cancer spread to his lymph nodes, requiring chemotherapy. By this time, in spring of 2017, Kristina's due date with daughter Everleigh was just weeks away. 

“Do I get to be the hospital for the delivery? Do I get to hold Everleigh?" thought Bettis. Luckily, he was able to be in the delivery room during the birth of his daughter, which was just weeks before his last chemo treatment. 

After chemotherapy, this new dad's cancer was in remission and so begins the push back to the major leagues. 

On August 14, 2017, in an emotional return to Coors Field, Bettis took to the mound in front of a roaring crowd for the first time as a father and a cancer survivor. 

In that game against the Atlanta Braves, Bettis pitched a lights out, scoreless seven innings. He allowed only six hits, striking out two as the Rockies went on shutout the Braves 3-0. 

Bettis describes the moment as nothing short of a miracle. 

Now, this young ball player and his family are determined to help others. The Bettis Family is hosting the first ever Chad Bettis Charity Classic, a golf tournament and silent auction to help raise awareness for testicular cancer. The Bettis' have teamed up with the Testicular Cancer Society for the event this weekend. 

When: January 11-12

Where: Talking Stick Resort. 

Click here to register

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