Michael Harthorne
Faye Cluckey, at work at The Family Pet in Ballard, is being honored by the Seattle Mariners for her work fighting breast cancer.

Ballard breast-cancer survivor honored by Mariners

For the past 24 years, longtime Ballard resident Faye Cluckey has been battling cancer within her family in one form or another. On May 9, the Seattle Mariners will honor her commitment to raising awareness about breast cancer in a pregame ceremony.

In 1986, Cluckey's younger sister was diagnosed with cancer. Later, Cluckey's dog Tinker Bell was diagnosed with breast cancer and successfully treated. Last year, Tinker Bell's incessant pawing at Cluckey's chest led her to get a mammogram. She was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and treated.

"That dog would not leave my breasts alone," Cluckey said. "She lived so she could help me live."

She said a strong faith and the ability to smile through life's bumps has kept her going through the difficult times.

"I believe in prayer," Cluckey said. "If I didn't know I had the Lord with me, I couldn't keep going."

Since her sister's first experience with cancer, Cluckey has dedicated herself to raising awareness about breast cancer.

She has participated in the Komen 3-Day for the Cure three times. On her 70th birthday, she asked for donations to Komen instead of presents. And, using the parking lot at Ballard Baptist as a donation site for a month, raised thousands of dollars for Komen.

The Mariners are making Cluckey an Honorary Bat Girl as one of 30 winners of a Major League Baseball and Susan G. Komen for the Cure contest to recognize inspirational fans that have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrated commitment to the cause.

In the letter nominating her mother for the honor, Cluckey's daughter said she believes her mom epitomizes what the contest is about.

Cluckey said she doesn't know that she deserves the accolades and doesn't know her own name when she is the center of attention.

"I like to do the work," she said. "I like to help everybody. But, I like to sit in the back row and let somebody else get the spotlight."

Her daughter asked to enter her in the contest, and Cluckey said she never dreamed she would actually win.

"I'd love for my mom to have the opportunity to be on the field with the Ms this Mothers Day," her daughter said in the contest application. "Not only is she a breast cancer survivor and warrior, she's a lifelong baseball fan."

Cluckey said she fell in love with baseball as a child and loves the Mariners, often attending spring training in Arizona.

Her husband used to coach little league, and she said she had a lot of fun with that. The team was a minor little league team with hand-me-down uniforms Cluckey used to repair. She would buy a box of gum and give out sticks as rewards for making a catch or getting a hit.

Cluckey said she is nervous to be down on the field on May 9, which is also her 72nd birthday. But, if anything, life has taught her to deal with the curveballs it throws at her.

"My daughter told me I will be on the big screen," Cluckey said. "I never wanted to be on the big screen. But, I'll do whatever. I'm game."

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