Shockingly, that pain was replaced with something even worse on December 6th: embarrassment.
When the Vancouver Canucks made their annual trip to BC Children's Hospital Monday, Sydney, a beautiful five-year-old suffering from acute myeloid leukemia, was visited by some of her favourite players.
The Canucks, split into four groups and spread throughout the hospital, had two sets of players stop by to spread some joy to Sydney and on each occasion she was mortified.
In addition to the Disney princess poster on one wall and the fairy poster on the other and the pink sheets, blankets and pillows and mountain of stuffed animals, Sydney’s room was filled with holiday streamers and decorations. Three in particular stood out to the Canucks – the two Montreal Canadiens glass tree ornaments hanging from the streamers and the Habs star sitting atop the miniature Christmas tree.
“You can see my dad did that,” said Sydney, explaining that her father Steve is a passionate Canadiens fan and that he had a say in decorating her room.
“Dad says we can cheer for both teams, but then he’s all like Go Montreal.”
Having your dad cheer for Montreal is one thing, being teased by the Canucks during a personal visit for having Canadiens decorations is quite another.
“She wasn’t too proud of her dad having all the Habs Christmas decorations there,” laughed Alex Burrows, “but she said she was going to take them down and work on her dad.”
“The only thing she was proud of,” added Tanner Glass, “was that the stuff wasn’t hers, she reminded us that a few times. She is pretty amazing, just so full of smiles and full of life. She was really happy and everyone around her was as well.”
Burrows and Glass were joined by Alex Bolduc, Jannik Hansen and Manny Malhotra in a fivesome that spent nearly three hours at the hospital, poking their heads in on rooms on the second and third floors handing out autographed player cards, books and memories.
Sydney was just one of the dozens and dozens of amazing children they met during their visit.
Jake could barely contain himself in front of his idols as they entered the Chieng Family Medical Day Unit, and he couldn’t be more excited to go watch the Canucks in New York in January.
The Canucks interrupted Dean during lunch. He was chowing down on Wendy’s that was “a lot better than hospital food,” but fries hit the ground when Malhotra extended a hand to greet him.
It was a good day for Sunny for wear his Team Canada shirt and nanoseconds after having his picture taken with the Canucks on his phone, it was posted as his Facebook profile picture.
Same goes for Jeff, who lucked out and was in a Canucks t-shirt, which is now covered in autographs from his heroes.
Herminder gave the players grief for their loss a night earlier against St. Louis as the youngster was in the crowd and “was yelling so loud he’s surprised they didn’t hear him.”
When Alex was asked by Glass who his favourite Canucks player is, he froze like a deer in headlights and said “Ummm…I don’t know…” Smart kid.
Fin, also visiting children, made a real impression on Joel by giving him a Fin bite on the head. Don’t worry, it didn’t hurt, Joel even said it felt good.
Then there was Roman, the boisterous youngster dressed in a Tow Mater (from Cars) robe, who addressed Fin as “Mr. Orca” and cuddled up to him when Fin laid down in his bed.
There are too many stories to recount them all, but when the Canucks finally waved goodbye after their visit, perspective was a word they were using quite often.
“When you get home, that’s the first thing you’re thinking about and it puts everything back in perspective and you realize how lucky we are to do what we like to do best,” said Burrows.
“Obviously it makes it easier after a tough loss the night before to have everything put back in perspective. A lot of people have it a lot tougher than we do.
“Every time we get a chance to give back and you really see the impact we can have in people’s lives, especially people who are going through tough times, it’s great.”