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Hockey Fights Cancer

Boyle proud of wife for taking on Hockey Fights Cancer ambassador role

Devils forward, diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia last season, confident she'll make impact

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Brian Boyle has no doubt his wife Lauren is going to have a great impact in the fight against cancer and infectious diseases.

Lauren was named the NHL's Hockey Fights Cancer Ambassador for 2018-19 on Thursday. It's the same role Nicholle Anderson, wife of Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson, served last season.

The announcement comes eight days after the 33-year-old New Jersey Devils forward told NHL.com that he is in molecular remission a little over 12 months after being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia on Sept. 19, 2017.

Brian is proud his wife will be one of the lead advocates for the NHL initiative.

"This is such a great honor for her," he said. "She does have her hands full with two kids, ages 17 months (Bella) and 3 years old (Declan), but she just looked at it as an opportunity to continue helping people. When things settled down after last year, we wanted to do everything we could to try to help with this kind of initiative with pediatrics for rare diseases.

"It's certainly not going to be easy for her because of the time it will take, but she's excited to do it. I'm just proud that she's willing to do it because she doesn't get a lot of free time for herself and now she's taking the time she does have and putting it towards this."

Brian was diagnosed after a training camp physical last season and returned to play on Nov. 1, 2017. He had 23 points (13 goals, 10 assists) in 69 regular-season games, and played five games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He represented the Devils at the 2018 NHL All-Star Game in Tampa and was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his perseverance and dedication to hockey last season. 

"She's been inspiring me since last year with what she's done, how she's handled everything with our family," he said. "Now that things have settled down a bit, she wants to help."

Declan had numerous procedures done at Boston Children's Hospital, where he was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation of the jaw, a rare condition that impacts blood flow and oxygen circulation.

"She saw a lot with what we went through with Declan and we've seen a lot of families in dire straits and tough situations at the Children's Hospital," Brian said. "It's tough to forget the families affected by this; we spent so much time there and I really can't think of another word to describe it than 'heartbreaking.'

"It hit her hard; it's not really a fun place to be."

Lauren and Bella surprised Brian at the end of a Devils practice at Prudential Center on Oct. 24. Lauren even sat down with her husband for a short question and answer session that afternoon.

"It was the first time I was interviewed by my wife, so I had to answer things a little differently," Brian said. "She did great. I was getting off the ice after practice and thinking about a million different things and look over and see it's my daughter and my wife. She asked if she could ask me a few questions and I was thinking, 'Do we need cameras for this?' But it was cool."

The questions mostly involved overcoming cancer, his family and, of course, hockey. Brian was asked what it meant to win the Masterton Trophy and he spoke about the loving support he received from his family, the Devils and his doctors.

"We stuck together and overcame a lot of adversity," he said.

Lauren asked what Brian's message would be to others afflicted by cancer.

"Find a support system and listen to your doctors," he said. "Make a plan and keep the faith. It's tough news, and you're allowed to be upset about it, allowed to grieve a little bit. But then try and find that strength to have that positive attitude.

Lauren got a memorable response to her question: "If you had one wish you knew would come true, what would it be?"

After a few seconds, Boyle said, "All my dreams have come true."

"That's perfect," Lauren responded with a smile.

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