Round Rock Express's Jana Almendarez dies after battle with Brain Cancer
It's literally written on the walls of the Dell Diamond: #teamjana
"Baseball is a big family, but really tight-knit really at all levels. [we] just really clinged to, said 'hey Team Jana, Jana strong,'" said Round Rock Express General Manager Tim Jackson.
Jackson and his wife were close to Round Rock Express President Chris Almendarez and his wife Jana. Last June, Jana was diagnosed with Stage 4 Brain Cancer.
"Obviously it shook us to the core when it happened. She started having some headaches and it just persisted, had a fever too and so they were just confused as to what it might be when they went into the ER here at St. David's in Round Rock. They ran a Catscan and found a tumor," Jackson said.
Jackson says Jana had been doing a little better.
"She was seemingly feeling better, looking better. Her hair was growing back, just getting stronger every time we saw her and the MRI we got in March, the tumor unfortunately doubled in size and she had started a new one at the front left side of her brain," Jackson said.
Team Jana was a big help. Thousands of dollars were raised through a Head for the Cure 5K and a benefit BBQ at the Dell Diamond.
"Today is a very good day, a very good day. Thank you for all the support. Thank you to everyone who have been kind and generous and just very supportive...we appreciate you," Jana told FOX 7 last October.
"The community, everybody loved her. I never heard her once, even before her sickness complain about anything and even in the midst of all the things she was going through and the pain and everything, a lot of that stuff we had no idea about because she was such a joy to be around," Jackson said.
On Saturday, Jana passed away.
"It was tough and I don't think it ever gets easy. Even though she's been on a state of decline you kind of prepare yourself and your heart and your mind for that. I don't think it's ever easy when the time finally comes," Jackson said.
The Texas Rangers posted a photo on Twitter of the players honoring her with a moment of silence.
In the Dell Diamond administrative office, a column in the middle of the room features words staff came up with to focus on for the year. Jana's word was "heal." Her husband Chris's word was "hope."
"I think Jana would say to never lose hope and whatever your going through, trials and tribulations, some people have Cancer, some people are dealing with much smaller things, we all go through things every day. And it's our choice to have hope," Jackson said.
Jana's funeral is this Friday at 10 A.M. at St. William Catholic Church. Round Rock Express said one of Jana's final wishes is that this be a celebration of life, so the family is asking people not to wear "funeral black." Come in bright colors.