When I was 9-years-old, my Ma was diagnosed with breast cancer. She became very ill quickly and as young as I was, I had very little understanding of how significant cancer was. Very fast I had to adapt to my Ma’s new lifestyle while attending school and traveling with hockey. It soon became very overwhelming and playing hockey for her became my way of escaping “from the cancer”.
As she went through surgery and treatment, she still made sure she was there to drive me to practice and come to games and tournaments no matter how tired or sick she felt. I always knew how to find her in the stands, wrapped in a green blanket and wearing a hat. She said hockey was the best medicine for both of us and it was the little things that mattered, like keeping a hockey schedule.
Ma says there is no cancer rulebook but it usually feels like you are playing on the penalty kill. You rely on your teammates to be there. They are the ones that get you through the tough shifts and the ones that are there for the little things too.
At nearly every tournament during her treatment, my teammates and I played mini sticks–one of those little things. Ma used to watch from a safe distance and joke that we needed to ‘save some for the games’ but all these years later, it’s that experience that inspired The Mini Sticks Charitable Organization. The camaraderie of hockey, the support of your team, and the chance to be a kid in the midst of cancer.
Because little things matter. Like the Mini Sticks.