"I'd go to a dermatologist and they would give me a steroid cream," Kirkman said. "The spots would go away for a day or two and then come back. They couldn't get them to go away for good."
Kirkman first noticed the spots in 2009 while pitching at Double-A Frisco. He thought he was allergic to something from the clubhouse washing machine.
It wasn't until last January that Kirkman had a biopsy done. The results came back two weeks later and showed it was skin cancer. He wasn't that alarmed.
"The doctor told me it is cancer, and it is serious because it is cancer," Kirkman said. "But it's the slowest moving cancer that you can have. It's so slow moving that you can live your whole life without having anything done."
Kirkman, who had spots on his arms and legs, was hoping to get through the season without getting treatment, but while pitching at Triple-A Round Rock, he noticed another spot on his stomach in late April.
"I decided then I'm going to get tested and get rid of this mess once and for awhile," Kirkman said.
Kirkman, while playing for Round Rock, began a series of treatments with a chimeric monoclonal antibody called Rituximab, which destroys the b cells that cause the cancer. He was scheduled for six treatments. He had gone through four treatments when he was called up to the Rangers on June 12. A blood test showed that everything appeared fine and he didn't need the final two treatments.
Kirkman went to the big leagues, pitched well enough with the Rangers to stay up for the entire season and everything was fine. At the end of the season, a couple of spots came back, so Kirkman has been undergoing the radiation treatments in Lake City, Fla., this winter to get rid of them.
"I missed just one day because the machine was broken," Kirkman. "It takes like 30 seconds. I'm in and out of there in three to five minutes."
It still gives him an appreciation for what people are dealing with when it comes to any form of cancer and he is a strong supporter of Major League Baseball's Stand Up To Cancer initiatives.
"I think it's great," Kirkman said, "I know millions and millions of people had it more serious than I did. I can't imagine what they had to go through."
Major League Baseball announced at the Winter Meetings on Monday a fundraiser that will benefit Stand Up to Cancer, which MLB has supported since 2008 as founding sponsor. Public relations representatives from all 30 clubs were inspired to act based on individual club members impacted by the disease, and they jointly organized the auction and announced it Monday in Nashville with MLB staff.
Bidding closes at 10:59 p.m. CT on Thursday, with more than 70 baseball-related experiences ranging from clubhouse tours by players to lunches with general managers to team bus rides to meet-and-greets with 14 Hall of Fame players.
One prize is four tickets to a Rangers game that includes a pregame meeting with the club's broadcasters and spending one inning observing in the broadcast booth. The other Rangers prize is four tickets to a game along with dinner in the Diamond Club and a pregame meeting with club president Nolan Ryan.