Baseball fan, cancer survivor, gets royal treatment at Rockies game
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Baseball is classy, said Elaine Deupree, which is why it’s her favorite sport to watch. “It’s more of a gentleman’s game.”
And to say Deupree, 83, is a Colorado Rockies fan would be an understatement.
On any given day, she knows who is on the injured list, who is at the top of their game and a heap of other baseball statistics.
“When you watch 162 ball games a year, you get to know them,” she said, “or, at least, you feel like you do.”
Every year, Deupree and her friend Betsy Peck, both of Craig, travel to Scottsdale, Arizona, for spring training. They have a few friends they also visit, when they aren’t at a game, but they go to games nearly every day.
“A lot of women don’t like sports, but she does,” Deupree said of Peck.
So, when Deupree was offered four box seat tickets for the June 2 Colorado Rockies game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Denver, she didn’t hesitate for a second.
The tickets were part of the UCHealth’s partnership with the Rockies and annual event to raise money and bring awareness to cancer.
Eleven years ago, Deupree was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that forms in plasma cells.
It isn’t curable, but she’s in remission for the third time and has been for two years.
Deupree was one of Dr. Robert Rifkin’s first patients at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center when she was first diagnosed.
And Deupree is very thankful for that. Not only is Rifkin a world renowned specialist in multiple myeloma, they also love to talk baseball.
Rifkin travels from the front range several times a month to see patients at the UCHealth Jan Bishop Cancer Center.
For the June 2 game, Deupree invited Peck and two other friends. At first, she thought about bringing her kids but couldn’t decide which ones, so made it a ladies trip instead.
She went on the field before the game for photos with other cancer survivors and met Rockies catcher Tony Wolters.
Standing behind home plate, “You feel very insignificant in that huge stadium,” she said.
Of the box seats, “I’ve never been treated like royalty, but I think I was that day.”
In addition to other complimentary drinks and snacks, Deupree enjoyed a hot dog “because that’s what you eat at a ball game.” But the box seat hot dog was far superior to the ones from the concession stand, she said.
The Rockies won 5-1.
Dubbed “Thelma and Louise” by Deupree’s cancer care team, Peck is not only her baseball buddy, but accompanies her to nearly every check up.
And it’s that support system Deupree calls vital to making it through cancer and treatment after treatment. Especially after losing her husband, it’s her doctors, friends and other family that she relies on.
And today, she’s feeling — and looking — very good.
As far as the Rockies season, “Well, I’m always optimistic,” she said. “They’ve been playing really well. The pitching is iffy at times. The bull pen is doing well, and the infield is playing great.”
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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