Softball Coach and overall inspiration Bari Mance was asked how she was doing a year after being diagnosed with breast cancer. In true softball fashion, she gamely answered, “Just muscling through.”
This was the mantra she repeated to herself after a double mastectomy and 4 cycles of chemotherapy. Surprisingly, Bari was able to muscle through the side effects of chemo and did not have to miss out on any important activities. Softball served as a beacon of light for Bari – it inspired her to get out of bed every day despite how she was feeling. As the team’s coach, she knew that her girls needed her on the field with them.
In 2017, Bari was feeling more fatigued than usual. At first, she thought that it was because of softball practice. Days later, she found a dimple on her breast and immediately sought the help of her doctors. She was then diagnosed with a 2-centimeter tumor which turned out to be borderline stage 3 and has spread to her lymph nodes.
Aside from kicking cancer’s ass to the curb, Bari also helped the St. John Fisher Cardinals achieve their best year yet. The team now has a 35-10 record, another Empire 8 championship under their belt and a qualified for the NCAA for the third year running.
“Things are on track. I went through the chemo and I didn’t get sick. I was able to muscle through and manage the side effects as they came and I was able to continue to work.”
While she shines on the softball field, Bari was never one for the spotlight. However, her teammates and community want to recognize her truly inspirational fight against cancer. This is why she was honored with the Christine Wagner-Welch Award at the 69th Annual Rochester Press-Radio Club Day of Champions. The event was held at the Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center.
The Christine Wagner-Welch Award is held in honor of the 12-year-old daughter of Charlie Wagner, a newspaperman in the 1940s, who lived with polio.
It is given to women who show perseverance and courage against life’s setbacks. With that being said, Bari is a shoo-in for this award. Despite her own predicament, she managed to organize events to raise money for other breast cancer survivors. And yet, she remains incredibly humbled to be receiving this honor.
“I honestly don’t know if I’d put myself in the category of being inspirational,’’ Mance says. “I’m just trying to do what I need to do to keep my spirits up and that’s being around my friends and family and my team.”