Painful memories came roaring back earlier this season when doctors informed slugger Freddie Freeman they had discovered a cancerous mole on his back.
The cancer, fortunately, was caught early, successfully removed and he was out of action just two days. His mother, Rosemary, however, wasn’t so lucky. Stage IV melanoma took her life 16 years ago when the slugging first baseman was still in grade school.
"My mom took care of herself and it still happened," he told The Associated Press.
From the beginning of his career, Freeman has made a mission of preaching the importance of skin care. He annually partners with the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) to raise awareness about melanoma and highlight the ways people can reduce the risk of developing this disease.
“I don’t want anyone to go through the experience my family went through as a result of skin cancer,” Freeman said. “That is why I’m partnering with MRF – to help the public better understand the steps they can take to reduce the risks of melanoma for both themselves and their loved ones.”
Since Freeman spends a great portion of his day outdoors, he makes sure to take sun protection very seriously and is constantly encouraging his teammates and fans to do the same. He always wears sleeves that cover both of his arms and would like to see it become a trend.
This July, he and MRF teamed up with the Atlanta Braves to host a Freeman Sleeve Day. Each ticket package purchased included a special pair of arm sleeves, and a portion of each ticket sold went to support MRF.
While melanoma awareness and prevention is closest to Freeman’s heart, he also advocates on behalf of all forms of cancer.
He has previously partnered with SUBWAY in Atlanta, taking part in a Childhood Cancer Awareness Month fundraising initiative called “Freddie Freeman’s Hugs and Subs.” This initiative gave customers in the North Georgia area the opportunity to make donations to the Child Life Zone at Scottish Rite Hospital, a receive coupons for future SUBWAY purchases. They also received a personalized “I Hugged Freddie” badge.
Alongside the work that he does to fight back against melanoma and cancer, in his spare time, Freeman also supports the local Atlanta Salvation Army Church, where his family is actively involved.
But preventing the type of skin cancer that took his mother’s life will remain the most passionate part of his cancer-prevention mission.
“Prevention is critically important. It can single-handedly reduce the thousands of melanoma cases that arise each year and claim too many lives,” Freeman said. “Just one blistering sunburn increases the risk for melanoma, and no one should take that risk lightly.”
Major Leaguers are #GoingToBat for causes near and dear to them, as they personify the Players Trust’s motto to ‘care, act and inspire.” To learn more about the charitable interests and activities of Freddie Freeman and other Major Leaguers, please click here.
KEYWORDS: Philanthropy, Health, Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves, skin cancer, melanoma, mother, melanoma research foundation, childhood cancer