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Ferguson: Hockey Intruding On Real Life

by John Ferguson / Toronto Maple Leafs
Last week, our team doctor Noah Forman stuck his head inside my office,

“Are you sitting down?” he said.

That’s how I learned about Jason Blake’s illness. My heart sank, but the news Noah brought me could only be described as the best of the worst kind of news.

There have been great breakthroughs in the treatment in this form of leukemia. A new medication will allow the vast majority of people to live as close to normal lives as possible.

My dad died of cancer in July. In cancer, early detection is one of the keys.

That was something that my father, unfortunately, did not have the benefit of, even though he had been raising money for prostate cancer every summer for 10 years.

The challenge is an altogether different one for Jason and there are plenty of examples of people in our game who have thrived after cancer. One of our assistant coaches, Keith Acton, is a cancer survivor. Look at Mario Lemieux, or Phil Kessel last year in Boston, or Saku Koivu, the captain of the Montreal Canadiens.

These are positive, uplifting stories and because we all have friends and family who did not fare as well, every new case has an added poignancy.

Having cancer in my family has changed my outlook on life.

Jason’s illness reminded me, when we learn about cancer in hockey, we tend to think it’s a case of real life intruding on hockey.

What it is, in truth, is hockey intruding on real life.

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