(Philadelphia, PA) - If you take a look between the pipes at the guy wearing a Flyers jersey, you will probably notice the way this masked man finds a way to keep the puck out of the net. What you may not notice is the small pink ribbon painted onto the back of Martin Biron’s mask. It has a story a lot closer to home than you probably know.
“I have two aunts who have been affected by breast cancer and have won their battle,” said Biron. His cousin however, whom he describes “was like a sister,” lost her battle with breast cancer just two months ago. She was 31.
The Flyers have the privilege of being the first home team to host Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Month. October 13th is Cancer Awareness Night at the Wachovia Center, and Biron has been chosen as the spokesperson for the special occasion.
“It is such an honor to be asked to be the spokesperson,” said Biron. “Breast cancer has hit my close family really hard, especially these last few years.”
The Flyers goalie knows what type of position he is in thanks to his unique occupation.
“We can’t lie about it,” said Biron. “Hockey players and athletes have a different stage that they can share some of their stories on.”
Every team in the league will have a chance to participate by having a Cancer Awareness Night at each home arena.
“It is always in the back of peoples minds,” said Biron. “It is a disease that not only affects the individual, but it affects the family, it affects marriages and friendships. But it is a disease that can be battled and one that someone can win.”
The Flyers opponent tonight, the Montreal Canadiens, are a team that has had its own close encounter with cancer.
Saku Koivu, the Canadiens captain, discovered that he had a malignant tumor in his abdomen on September 5th, 2001. He later was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and entered chemotherapy. After successful treatment, everyone expected him to return to action for the 2002-2003 season. Surprising everyone though, Koivu underwent rigorous training, and was there for the opening faceoff on April 9, 2002, making a surprise return within the same season as his diagnosis.
Koivu’s story brought Hockey Fights Cancer into the forefront of the NHL, and it has continued to raise awareness ever since, encouraging everyone. From those battling cancer to someone like Biron whose family has experienced it, there is hope.
“I think that as hockey fans, you come to support a team and you come in to support athletes,” continued Biron. “But coming out to the game is one way you might not know. You will support more than just a game or a sport; instead you will support the game of life. One way is to cheer and yell and scream at the game, and another way is to support the charities.”
So if you come out to the game tonight, and you see number 43 stack the pads or flash his glove, remember that he has a small pink ribbon painted onto the back of his mask. The key saves that he wants to make are not all on the ice.