There are a lot of great things about my mom, and one of them is she always saves me little clips like this – ones she knows I will want to read because they’re about things that are close to my heart. Most of them revolve around cancer, Crohn’s, writing, or sports. This one has both cancer and hockey in it.
I’ve often argued that hockey is the best sport, and I’ll add this clip to make my case. NHLer Jason Blake was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia in the beginning of the 2007-2008 season, and he decided to keep playing as he received treatment. I really can’t imagine any baseball, basketball, football, or soccer player doing this. Maybe I’m wrong, but I haven’t heard of any similar stories. As you might guess and as this article suggests, it wasn’t an easy thing for him to do.
But Blake wasn’t the only NHLer who played while knowing he had cancer. Phil Kessel was diagnosed with cancer when he was only 19, and he played for the Bruins in a game against the Devils after hearing the news from his doctor earlier that day. Phil beat his cancer, and said it helped him become stronger and more focused on the important things in life (see article from nhl.com).
I found this press conference with Rob Blake right after he announced his diagnosis. He gets emotional when talking about his family; a sure sign cancer also gave him perspective on what really matters in life.
Even though Blake and Kessel are my heroes for being professional hockey-playing cancer survivors, when they play the Bruins it’s a different story. Since Kessel was traded from the Bruins to Toronto, he gets booed by B’s fans when The Leafs come to Boston. I was watching one of these games with a Hope Lodge guest and said to him, “Can you believe they are booing a cancer survivor???” And check out this clip of Tim Thomas decking Blake. Hockey players first, cancer survivors second.