Around 1979 my cousin Tracey was diagnosed with Leukemia. Tracey was 10 and I was 18 and a Senior in high school in that time. My family and I were devastated.
Tracey's mom was more like an older sister to me as she lost my aunt to cancer when she was young and basically grew up in our house. Tracey always called me ‘Ugly John,’ but we were closest in age as the two youngest kids in the family.
Tracey battled and was in and out of remission over the next five years.
I am a big Islanders fan and my favorite Islander was Bob Nystrom. I was told I resembled him by many people and always wore his jersey. (I still do, as my son gave me a Nystrom rookie jersey for my 50th birthday.)
The Islanders have always been involved in the community and regularly visited Nassau County Medical Center, as it is just down the road from the Coliseum.
On one such occasion Nystrom and others came to visit. Tracey asked Bobby Ny for an autograph when he approached her at the hospital. Of course Nystrom obliged and asked Tracey who to make it out to. She said Ugly John. Nystrom, startled, said "Are you sure?" but Tracey insisted. I have an autograph from my favorite Islander to Ugly John. It’s something I will always remember and one of my memories of Tracey, who lost her battle in Oct of 1984.
Over the years I have run into Bobby Ny but never mentioned the story. I thought I would share this story with you because it lets us remember her and the fact that the Islanders have always been there for the kids and cancer patients on LI.