Hockey Vs. Cancer
There are only a few things that can spread fear, hope, inspiration, strength, sadness, and unity. Surprisingly, cancer is one of those things. The number of lives that are touched in some way by this disease is massive. As unfortunate as the situation can be, the reach cancer has in the world allows people to stand together and help fight it head on. One group that has been formed to raise money and awareness is Hockey Fights Cancer.
Beginning in December of 1998, Hockey Fights Cancer was created by the NHL and the National Hockey League Players Association. It was inspired by the efforts of the Tampa Bay Lightning in response to John Cullen’s attempted NHL comeback after his encounter with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Timm Harmon, a board member for the Moffitt Cancer Center, partnered with the Lightning to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. Shortly after this partnership, the Hockey Fights Cancer initiative was formed.
Since its inception, Hockey Fights Cancer has been able to raise over $12.8 million to support research institutions, hospitals, and other charities and organizations.
Beyond the larger efforts taken within the NHL to make a change and instill hope in the cancer community, players on an individual level have shown their support.
Todd Bertuzzi, a player who is not well known for his compassion and sensitivity, has been personally affected by cancer in a couple different ways. On the shaft of a few of his Easton V9s, three names and the letters “NGU” appear. The “NGU” stands for “Never Give Up”. The three names above it are those of people close to Bertuzzi who have been diagnosed with cancer. “EDDIE” is a good friend of Todd’s who is currently battling the disease. “PATSY” is Eddie’s mother, who unfortunately lost her battle with cancer. “KATHY” is Todd’s mother-in-law who is currently fighting triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). This cancer is difficult to treat because it does not express any of the three genes that are normally targeted by chemotherapy treatments.
From a situation as grim and frightening as cancer, it is hard to find the strength to continue moving forward. On the backside of his cancer tribute sticks, Bertuzzi included a short phrase meant to instill hope in those trudging through difficult times, “STAY STRONG”.