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Hockey Fights Cancer

Kings salute scout as part of Hockey Fights Cancer

Denis Fugere says support by team invaluable during successful treatment

by Abbey Mastracco / Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- Denis Fugere knew something was wrong.

The Los Angeles Kings amateur scout was on a scouting trip in Halifax, Nova Scotia, last fall when he noticed swollen lymph nodes. He was so exhausted that he needed to have another scout drive him to a game.

Fugere said he's always considered himself a "lone wolf," someone who didn't take rides with other scouts.

He went to an emergency room the next day, and it didn't take long for the results: mantle cell lymphoma. He was in disbelief at the word cancer, but he didn't have much time to process the diagnosis.

"When the doctor said, 'I need to know by tomorrow if you're going to go through the treatment or not,' that kind of pushed it,'" Fugere said. "I looked at my wife and said, 'Are you in?' And she said, 'Yeah.' So I said, 'OK, let's fight.'"

Fugere fought the battle and won. He went into remission in May, and after a few stem cell procedures in June, he finished his aggressive treatment plan. Fugere was honored by the Kings at Staples Center during their game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday as part of Hockey Fights Cancer.

But the honor, Fugere says, is his. The Kings organization proved to be a far greater support system for him and his wife, Lin Van Den Bossche, than they thought possible.

"They said, 'Fine, we'll take care of you,'" Fugere said.

The Kings offered to help the Montreal-based couple seek treatment in the United States with some of the country's top doctors. Fugere and Van Den Bossche declined the offer, opting to stay in Montreal where they could better understand the complicated medical terms in French, their first language.

But the organization still wanted to help. They covered any of Fugere's medical costs that weren't covered by his insurance. That even included Lin's parking at the hospital.

"They took care of us the right way and there's only thank-yous," Fugere said. "Financially I had no issues."

The support the Kings showed Fugere was of immense comfort to a family that already was mourning a cancer-related death; Lin's father had died of cancer five weeks before Fugere's diagnosis.

"The team was there when I had to step aside a bit to take care of my mom," Van Den Bossche said. "Everything together, the team, the family, the friends, it gives you the 100-percent support that we really need. You really need that."

Hockey continued to play a role in Fugere's recovery. Van Den Bossche drove him to a few games around the Montreal area and always noticed an instant boost in his mood. Though he filed scouting reports, the Kings never pushed him to do so.

"I went for my own satisfaction and sanity," Fugere said. "I wasn't there mentally but it was good for me for the social aspect. My friends were there, so I went."

Several of his friends also were in attendance Tuesday, when the Kings showed a video tribute on the big screen. Fugere nearly was in tears watching his boss, vice president of hockey operations and player personnel Michael Futa, talk about how proud he was to see the organization helping one of its own.

Tweet from @LAKings: All our ������ to our #LAKings scout Denis Fugere, who is personally engaged in the fight against cancer. @Amgen @BreakawayCancer

"The emotions took over," Fugere said. "But that's OK."

A lone wolf no more, Fugere allowed the Kings to step in and provide aid; partly because of that, he's now cancer-free.

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