Found July 02, 2013 on Fox Sports Florida:
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. It was a night to give thanks but also prepare for unknowns. There were many then. At the home of Melanie McCauleys family in La Crescenta, Calif., a commitment was made, love promised.About 30 of McCauleys closest family and friends, including her long-time boyfriend, Tampa Bay Rays reliever Cesar Ramos, were present for an intimate dinner. This was Nov. 10, 2012, 16 days after she was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma.Ramos friend, a chef and caterer, had prepared some of McCauleys favorite items for the occasion: sea bass, grilled vegetables, clam chowder in small bread bowls. Soon, her life would include chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Her family and friends offered comfort that the path ahead would not be lived alone.In time, McCauleys father, Larry, addressed the group. Then Ramos did the same. The pitcher became emotional, trying to find the right words for his love.Ramos turned to Larry, who reached into his pocket. Out came the engagement ring. Ramos knelt and proposed."It was complete shock," McCauley says. Ramos describes McCauley as happy, always positive, someone who finds the best in any situation. Their marriage is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2014, in Pasadena, Calif. Their bond has grown stronger through uncertainty.They met as students at Long Beach State. Ramos played baseball, and McCauley was part of the softball team. They shared social circles, spending time together in the dorms and in study sessions. They began dating as sophomores in 2004. The San Diego Padres drafted Ramos in the first round, 35th overall, a year later. The couple split for about two years, but they remained friends and eventually reunited."Baseball is a game of failure," Ramos says. "Its you versus the hitter and whos going to fail and whos going to succeed. Theres a lot of ups and downs, but she has always been the positive one."Late last year, McCauleys neck turned sore. Larry and McCauleys mother, Carole, thought the pain was a symptom of a severe cold. But McCauleys problem did not disappear with early remedies.Tests in Southern California revealed that she had Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of cancer that typically starts in lymph nodes in the upper-body and can spread to nearby organs. There were many questions."I knew at the beginning that it was going to be a long journey, obviously, because part of it was unknown," says McCauley, 29. "The doctors say, 'Well, this could happen, but it may not.' Everyones different. You never know."Ramos was with McCauley during her early medical appointments in the Los Angeles area. He raced from his morning offseason workouts to be with her at chemotherapy treatments.His presence provided comfort. He knew what to say about the condition when the time was right. Just as importantly, he knew what to say when to turn her mind to other thoughts. Before McCauley lost her long, blond hair, Ramos shaved his head prior to her doing the same. Their struggle was shared."He held me, when I couldnt really look at myself in the mirror at first," McCauley says. "He held me and told me I was beautiful." McCauley made progress in time. Still, there were challenges when Ramos traveled across the country to begin his third season with the Rays.The couple exchanged texts and phone calls. Ramos did his best to offer encouragement, telling McCauley words such as, "Stay positive," and "Youll get through it." The distance, however, was hard."You didnt know how she was going to react to all the treatment," Ramos says. "Being over here, its definitely not easy to have those thoughts go through your head. (You) keep your fingers crossed that everything is going to be OK. Luckily for her, she reacted well."Its definitely a test on not only a relationship, but also who you are and what youre made of. Its definitely not easy."McCauley spent time with Ramos during Tampa Bays road trip to Chicago, Kansas City and Denver from April 25-May 5. Then she flew back to Los Angeles, where she was scheduled to undergo her last chemotherapy session May 6.There, McCauley received a surprise. Ramos was by McCauleys side at the beginning of the process, so he knew her routine. On May 6, the Rays were set to play against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. But Ramos received permission to fly to Southern California and be present for McCauleys milestone.McCauley walked into the familiar room at the treatment center. Suddenly, she processed a sight that amazed her: Ramos sitting next to the chair where she had spent so many hours with so many unknowns.She froze. They both cried."It meant so much to me that he was there," McCauley says. "He was there at the beginning to start it, and at the end to finish it with me. That was the high, for sure. It gave me that last boost to get through the last leg of the treatment." The future provides anticipation now. For the most part, McCauleys unknowns are gone. Recently, on June 21, she flew from Los Angeles to be with Ramos during the Rays series in New York against the Yankees, after her oncologist cleared her following treatments. Ramos turned 29 the next day.She arrived at Ramos hotel room at about 8:30 a.m. She recalls her lifes love rolling over, half-asleep, saying, "Its about time!" She laughed."It goes to show that its the real deal," McCauley says of her bond with Ramos. "I feel like having gone through this at such a young age, its so important moving forward. It puts things into such perspective. ... It feels like its bigger than life, to get through it together, to know you have your companion there with you no matter what to lean on."After the New York trip, McCauley flew into the Tampa Bay region, ready to begin a new life. She lives with Ramos in St. Petersburg, Fla., and she is happy to call it home. She plans to return to Los Angeles for follow-up appointments when the Rays play the Dodgers from August 9-11, and she will do the same when the Rays play the Anaheim Angels from Sept. 2-5."We were amazed at how he was strong and unwavering and just a total support for her for whatever she was going through," Larry McCauley, the father, says of Ramos. "We were impressed with the character of the man."Others were too. Ramos' heart was tested. Along the way, it grew stronger. "She has had to go through a lot here these last few months and so has he," Rays reliever Jamey Wright says. "Its tough enough to play this game when all the stars are aligned. When youre dealing with something else on your mind, its tough. Hes a hero, just like her. Hes a hero to us, and shes a hero to him."Almost eight months ago, Ramos made a commitment that will carry throughout the couples life together. There will be more tests. Life includes turns, unexpected twists."She had a good support group around her," Ramos says. "I think that was the biggest thing that helped her, having good people around."Loving, too. A journey behind thecouple has prepared them for the one ahead. You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter@aastlefordor email him ataastleford@gmail.com.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

With David Price’s Return, The Tampa Bay Rays Need To Make a Move

The line on David Price’s return from the disabled list Tuesday night was encouraging – no runs on three hits in seven innings – as the Tampa Bay Rays cruised to an 8-0 blanking of the home team Houston Astros.  Price could hardly have done better, throwing only 70 pitches, 48 for strikes, with 10 K’s and no walks. Yet while a win may be a win, the Astros are not the team...

Luke Scott's brother has quite an intimidating presence

Meet Tampa Rays designated hitter Luke Scott's younger, albeit larger, brother, Noah. The two recently shared screen time on MLB Network's Intentional Talk. Aside from his large stature, the younger Scott also sports an impressive head of hair, which Luke and the analysts had a bit of fun with. The brothers spoke from Houston, where the Rays were playing a four-game series...

Rays sign first-round pick Ryne Stanek of Arkansas

The Tampa Bay Rays have signed right-hander Ryne Stanek, the team announced Tuesday. Stanek was selected in the first round, No. 29 overall, in the MLB draft June 6. He will begin workouts Wednesday at the Rays' spring training complex in Port Charlotte, Fla. Stanek, who played at Arkansas, went 10-2 with a 1.39 ERA in 16 starts as a junior. For his college career, he was 22...

Rays Players Dress in ‘Accidential Preppie’ Theme for Road Trip Travel Day (Photos)

You have to hand it to Joe Maddon. When the Rays manager isn’t taking shots at the reigning Triple Crown winner, he’s a pretty jovial guy. Tampa Bay has long been known to play dress-up. Back in April, for instance, the team wore custom-made letterman jackets on a road trip that brought them through Fenway park. In 2012, it was nerd costumes. Really, the Rays’ themed-dress...

Rays' Evan Longoria battling plantar fasciitis

The Tampa Bay Rays are not expected to place Evan Longoria on the disabled list despite the fact that he has been battling plantar fasciitis.  The inflammation in Longoria's foot has been going on for about a month now, but Longoria has found a way to play through the pain for the most part.  He is optimistic that he will be able to avoid a trip to the DL. According to...

Rays' Evan Longoria returns to lineup as DH

HOUSTON (AP) Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing three straight games with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. The All-Star third baseman was Tampa Bay's designated hitter against Houston as he continued to struggle with the condition. Manager Joe Maddon says he did some early work on Tuesday before deciding if he could play and that ...

Rays activate David Price from disabled list

The Rays are getting the heart and soul of their pitching rotation back. The team has activated star pitcher David Price and optioned infielder Ryan Roberts to Triple-A Durham, according to a report from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. Price was placed on the disabled-list after he injured his triceps May 16. The injury may have been a blessing in disguise as Price was struggling...

Rays' Evan Longoria thinks he's close to returning to lineup

As we mentioned yesterday, Evan Longoria is looking to avoid the disabled list despite dealing with plantar fasciitis.  He has been playing through the pain, but is now getting some rest.  However, Longoria feels ready to return to the lineup and is determined to stay off the DL. According to Glenn Sattell of MLB.com, Longoria hopes to play again within the next couple of days...

Astros fan fails, and falls, trying to catch foul ball (Video)

Your browser does not support iframes. A Houston Astros fan was knocked over by a foul ball that he tried to catch during Monday night's game at Minute Maid Park. It happened in the eighth inning as Tampa Bay Rays batter Matt Joyce hit the foul ball high up into the stands. The fan was in perfect position to catch the ball, but misjudged it and the ball went through his...

David Price makes strong return with 7 shutout innings

HOUSTON (AP) AL Cy Young Award winner David Price pitched three-hit ball for seven innings in his return from the disabled list and Desmond Jennings had a home run and drove in four runs as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Houston Astros for the second straight night, 8-0 on Tuesday. Price (2-4) had missed the last 44 games with a left triceps strain in his first-ever stint on the DL...

Joe Maddon Wishes Miguel Cabrera ‘Wouldn’t Cry So Much’ After Tigers-Rays Altercation

During Saturday’s game between the Tigers and Rays, Miguel Cabrera did not appreciate a 10th-inning up-and-in pitch from Fernando Rodney. Cabrera barked at the Rays going back to the dugout after striking out, and, on Sunday, the Tigers appeared to retaliate by hitting Ben Zobrist in the first inning. An immediate warning by home plate umpire Vic Carapazza seemed to keep the incident...

GIF: Did Miguel Cabrera call Fernando Rodney a homosexual slur?

Video evidence shows that Detroit superstar Miguel Cabrera may have called Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney a homosexual slur after striking out against him Saturday.

Astros fan fails miserably trying to catch ball

Hey, at least there’s a highlight from Monday’s Houston Astros-Tampa Bay Rays game at Minute Maid Park. Well played, sir, well played.  
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.