Cancer survivors take to diamond
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
June 20, 2013 12:38 AM | 1087 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The four-day Peach State Classic senior softball tournament will begin today at the Al Bishop Softball Complex, with a special group of players taking part.

The RECNAC CAN-sirs, a team of cancer survivors from Georgia and neighboring states, will play two games today at 10:30 a.m. and noon. RECNAC is “cancer” spelled backwards.

The CAN-sirs organization, which got its start in California, is comprised of senior softball players that have either survived cancer or are currently battling the disease. One member of the group, Augusta attorney Terry Leiden, authored of the book “Get Back in the Game: An Inspirational Story of Cancer Survivors.”

“CAN-sirs, the national organization out of California, heard about my book and asked me to form a team here in Georgia, and that’s what I did,” said Leiden, a prostate cancer survivor who manages the team. “I asked the folks at the Peach State Classic if we could play a couple of exhibition games during the tournament, and they said OK.

“Most of the people who play on our team are a part of other tournament teams already competing this weekend, so they could leave right after our game is over and go play for their other team later. No matter how things work out, we’re excited to be a part of this.”

Leiden started the CAN-sirs team in March. The team played its first few games in Augusta and sports a 1-2 record entering today’s games.

“We’re a competitive team, and maybe we’ll win our games (today),” Leiden said. “We have 13 players on the team, but we’ve lost three of them due to scheduling issues. We have players from Augusta, west Alabama, other parts of Georgia, and a guy from Chattanooga on the team. It’s an all men’s team right now, but we’re looking for some women to play as well.”

As part of the exhibition event, Leiden will be on hand to distribute free copies of his book.

“I have four boxes of the books and will be giving them away,” Leiden said. “I hope that lots of people read it and they like it because it’s funny, even though I’m dealing with a strong subject like cancer.”

Leiden said cancer patients ages 14 and under are invited to attend today’s games. The team’s tradition is to give each patient their favorite player’s shirt after the final game.

“If a kid with cancer comes out at the end of the game and asks for our shirt, we’ll give it to them right off our back,” Leiden said. “To have a 12-year-old talk to a 73-year-old about cancer, one of the questions we get is, ‘And you’re still alive?’ Kids pick up on that. Cancer doesn’t have to beat you, no matter what age you are.

“Our team proves that you’re not dead just because you have cancer.”
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