On Thursday, ALL-USA High School Softball Player of the Year Taylor Dockins got the most important win of her life, and she wasn’t anywhere near a softball field when it happened.
As first reported by the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Dockins, the Norco (Calif.) High star who earned top national honors following a remarkable 33-1 season and 1.00 ERA, had a meeting at UCLA earlier this month so doctors could determine if she was an ideal candidate for a liver transplant. Thursday, hours after Dockins attended the ESPYs, she learned that she is now on the approved liver transplant list, a far greater award than if she had earned the Gatorade Athlete of the Year crown (which went to track star Sydney McLaughlin instead).
“It’s been an unbelievable week,” Dockins told the Press-Enterprise. “Getting to go to the ESPYS was amazing, a once-in-a-lifetime moment that I will never forget. And then to hear from the doctors about the transplant was emotional. It’s a life-changing decision they’ve made for me.”
The move could not have been more timely, or of critical, life-saving importance. Dockins was told that her liver cancer — a rare form known as fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma — had returned in the form of three tumors in the left lobe of her liver. The largest is reportedly baseball-sized, which will require a procedure called radioembolization, in which a catheter with beads filled with the radioactive isotope yttrium will be inserted in her body to shrink the existing tumors and kill off any free-floating undetected cancer cells.
If that goes well, Dockins could receive a liver transplant as soon as her name comes up on the list, a move which should provide the Cal State Fullerton signee with a new, longer lease on life. She had to wait one more day for the critical news because UCLA doctors were initially unable to reach her while she lacked phone reception inside the Microsoft Theater for the ESPYs.
“We didn’t have very good phone reception, so they had trouble calling us,” Taylor said. “They just called again right now. Better late than never when getting news like that.”