When they said, “You’re gonna be in for a fight,” I now know what they mean. Taking out my entire stomach to get all the cancer. Well, it was very difficult for me.
I coach hockey to a youth group called the Junior Kings. They’re 13 year-olds. I think a lot of them knew, but I don’t think they knew how serious it was. We had a meeting at the beginning of the year, and I told them that I was in cancer treatment. At the time my head was completely bald, and my eyelashes and eyebrows were pretty much gone. We talked about doing this together, fighting this disease together.
In all the years that I’ve been coaching, every team goes through adversity. Being the leader of the group, the coach, you’re teaching these kids and preaching, “You go through adversity, you gotta fight through it.” Well, I can’t just preach it. I have to live it.
When they told me I was fortunate enough to have surgery, I felt, in a way, fortunate. I felt that I was lucky. Most people look at me and go, “What do you mean? They are going to take out your entire stomach. Why is that lucky?” I learned that, if you’re eligible for surgery, that means you’re ahead of the rest, you’re doing pretty good.
The brightest spot through all of this was that I got to work. That I got to go do something that I love. And I believe that’s what saved my life.
The biggest life lesson I’ve learned going through this was that I don’t think my son was ready for life. I don’t think I did a good enough job teaching him what would happen if I passed away. My son’s my inspiration. He makes me want to live. I want to see him grow. I want to see him get married. I want to see my grandkids. I truly want to see what he turns out to be. That’s what inspires me.
What the Tour de Pier does for people like myself and other people that are definitely struggling with this dreadful disease, it really changes a lot of people’s lives. The fight isn’t over, and I think this means a lot to a lot of people.