Metro mother celebrates 5 years cancer free with family photo shoot at Kauffman

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Every milestone is a major victory.

Cancer survivors saver every day when the dreaded condition is in their rearview mirror. Such is the case for one mother from the metro, who celebrated her health with a special photo shoot last week.

There's more than just baseball, and two recent World Series appearances, to celebrate at Kauffman Stadium. Just ask Olathe's Angela Holtgraves.

"Cancer isn't pretty. It's ugly. It's a long fight," Holtgraves said on Tuesday.

Holtgraves, 32, brought the party and the cameras to the K last week. Friday, June 14 marked five years since she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer.

At the time, Holtgraves was 28-years old with two children aged three and younger. Last Friday, Holtgraves, just as she did on the one-year anniversary of her diagnosis, celebrated with a photo shoot at the home of the Royals. Rocking a World Series ring while she and her family posed for a photographer. The ring belonged to a friend who works for the ball club.

"When you're going through that fight, you have to find something positive to look forward to and that turned out to be the Royals for us," Holtgraves said.

"I'm glad she doesn't have any cancer anymore," R.J. Holtgraves, Angela's eight-year old son, said. "It's super important. As important as the world because she does everything for us."

Holtgraves recalled watching games from the 2014 World Series while receiving treatment for cancer, including multiple surgeries and 32 radiation treatments.

"When I was sick, I kind of made a deal with God. I said, 'Get me through this, and we'll find a way to give back'," Holtgraves said while sitting in the stadium's home dugout.

The special education teacher kept her word. Holtgraves and her students from Olathe West High School now make Christmas and Valentine's Day gifts for oncology patients at Children's Mercy Hospital.

Holtgraves said she chose to help pediatric cancer patients because she saw a need. Oncologists report less than five percent of all money raised for cancer research is earmarked for cancers that affect kids.

This isn't the first moment of kindness Angela has witnessed at Kauffman. During the 2014 World Series, she and her husband, Robert, made it to Game Six against San Francisco while wearing a pink scarf on her head. A fellow Royals fan -- one she`s never met before -- gave her a Royals cap so she could feel like part of the team. The woman gave her that hat off her own head and then, according to Holtgraves, vanished. Holtgraves and her family have searched for that stranger ever since.

"There's something magical about this place where when you're here, you feel good," Toby Cook, Royals vice president of publicity, said. "It's the best thing we do as an organization to use a Major League Baseball facility to give people a little bit of hope when they're a little bit frightened about things that are going on in their lives."

And she's already planning the next photo shoot in five more years. Everyone's ready to see those fun photos too.

"In this town, you give back. That's what you do," Holtgraves said.

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