The Passion That Healed Me: My fandom of the Maple Leafs and my journey with Cancer

“Don’t feel sorry for me, if you want to, encourage me.

Embrace me. I’m going to be all right-Just like I’ve always been.”

July 14th, 2014 will forever have an impact on my life as that was the day I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer. I woke up and went to work like every day, but as the morning went on, I began to experience a pain I had never experienced before. By noon, the pain was so excruciating I ran to the washroom and did a self-examination. Upon completing the self-exam, I knew something was wrong and rushed myself to the hospital.

After a quick ultrasound the life changing news was delivered, I had testicular cancer. The following day I went to the local urologist and we booked the surgery to have the testicle with the hemorrhaged tumor removed immediately. Having to decide to have a testicle removed was one of many tough decisions I have had to make since being diagnosed. With no time nor other options I was in for surgery the next day.

Here is where my story intertwines with our beloved Maple Leafs. Not too long after surgery, I had returned back to work and I received a surprise. It was a package from the Maple Leafs, including a signed Phil Kessel jersey, some other Maple Leafs swag, but more importantly, there was a personalized letter from then GM, Dave Nonis, wishing me support and a speedy recovery. I found out this was setup through a friend of mine who shared my story with the Maple Leafs organization.

In an instant, the roll of fan changed for me. There I was still recovering from my surgery and the team that I grew up cheering for, through its ups and downs, had returned the favor and was standing behind me during my most difficult moment. This is only the beginning of how my cancer journey intertwines with the Maple Leafs.

Things were going great for about 4 months until the unfortunate happened. My cancer returned in October of the same year, but this time it was in my abdomen and my oncologist was going to have to remove two tumors. My surgery was scheduled for the next month but fortunately, the wait to go into surgery was only made easier with the support of my wife, my family and friends. In the back of my mind, I also knew I had the support of my beloved Maple Leafs. November 24th, 2014 marked my second successful surgery and after a 12 day stay at the hospital, I was back home and recovering just in time for Christmas.

In the fall of 2015, I had been invited to a gala organized by my friend as a special guest. In the middle of the festivities I was on stage helping with an auction and up from back of the stage came Wendel Clark! After a brief introduction, I was told that I would be joining Wendel for dinner at the ACC before a game.

Looking back from my original diagnosis, I had many ups and downs, as did the Maple Leafs. As I was rebuilding myself from my cancer diagnosis, the Maple Leafs were also rebuilding from a difficult few years. Today, I can proudly say I am 3 years cancer free. My life is filled with love, hope and excitement. This blog is a testament to where I am and the support of my family, friends and you my readers. From the Maple Leafs perspective, they came out of their dark days too. Hope and excitement surrounds this team and better days lay ahead for both of us.

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