On Sunday, the Daily Sports reported on Hanshin Tigers catcher Fumihito Haraguchi’s visit to a cancer care facility. On Jan. 24, Haraguchi announced he had been diagnosed with colon cancer and had surgery two days later.
Haraguchi’s English language player page is HERE. The 27-year-old revealed that although he returned to play 43 games this season, the follow-up examination after his surgery revealed that his cancer was at stage 3B, meaning:
Cancer Treatment Centers of America, colorectal cancer stages.
Stage IIIB: The cancer has grown into or through the outermost layer of the colon or rectum and may have spread into nearby organs or tissues. The cancer has spread to up to three lymph nodes near the primary site, but has not spread to distant organs.
He began having treatment in cycles composed of four weeks of drug therapy and two weeks of rest. Although the team told him to be patient and come back when he was fully fit, Haraguchi opted for a plan to receive treatment over a five-year period while still playing, and his physician credited that desire to play with boosting his recovery.
“My doctor liked baseball and encouraged me to play as much as I could,” Haraguchi said. “The plan is receive treatment as I play five years, although that demands careful monitoring of my situation.”
Simply being able to play would have been testament enough, but Haraguchi wrote the most melodramatic script allowable.
In his first at-bat of the season, he delivered a two-out, RBI pinch-hit double in Chiba. Five days later, on June 9, he batted with one on and two outs in the ninth at Koshien Stadium, and hit a sayonara home run off Nippon Ham Fighters closer Ryo Akiyoshi..
Haraguchi was encouraged by the chief physician at the care facility to reveal his situation.
“I was able to give the children (receiving treatment) courage,” he said after he had avoided revealing his situation all year. “The head doctor implored me to speak out, and I told the team that.”
“I’ve been able to compete while going through this. There are people who are doing their best fighting illnesses, and can resume working. They can even play sports. I wanted to relate that.”