Before seven-year-old Tyler DeCourcey was tasked with dropping the ceremonial first puck when the San Jose Sharks took on the Boston Bruins this past Saturday, his twin brother Alex had something important to say to defenseman Brent Burns.
"He's in remission from cancer," Alex immediately told the blueliner when he greeted the family during warm-ups.
"Yeah, my first year!" Tyler chimed in.
That special evening was the Sharks official Hockey Fights Cancer Night presented by Kaiser Permanente and while the family was celebrating the most important anniversary of Tyler's life, it also served as somewhat of a homecoming as they stood surrounded by the entire Sharks organization.
On January 6, 2016, nearly six months after Tyler was officially diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, the DeCourcey's were at the hospital for what they thought was a routine clinic visit. It was then they found out that quick trip was going to be one of the most challenging days of his diagnoses yet.
"We went into the clinic thinking it was a quick check-up and it turned out he needed a blood transfusion and a platelet transfusion," Tyler's mother, Sylvia DeCourcey said. "We spent nearly six hours at the clinic."
The lengthy doctor's visit was also coupled with the news that Tyler's surgery to remove his cancerous tumors would now be delayed.
"That day was pretty horrific for us," she said.
But Sylvia was soon tipped off that the Sharks Foundation was hosting its Capes4Heroes event just upstairs, so they headed for the in-patient pediatric unit to see what it was all about.
That's where Tyler was surprised by the Sharks Paul Martin and Joel Ward, as well as broadcasters Jamie Baker and Dan Rusanowsky, who helped him personalize a superhero cape of his own.
"When you have a rough day in the hospital, just seeing a new face, seeing someone friendly who will make you laugh is a big deal," Sylvia said.
Before long, Tyler was joined by his brother who had the opportunity to get a cape of his own. Having the brothers involved together was very significant for the family.
"When [Tyler] got sick from cancer, it's not just [Tyler]," Sylvia said, "It's the entire family and the other siblings get affected the most."
The two shared an afternoon they will never forget with a star studded cast of caregivers who have been by Tyler's side throughout treatment.
"[The boys] were running around getting the nurses and doctors on the in-patient floor to sign their capes," Sylvia said.
The DeCourcey's may have had a morning full of setbacks, but they left that afternoon with the important reminder that regardless of what battle they're fighting, they all had the strength to beat it.
Those very same capes are now filled with signatures of everyone who has impacted their lives and tells an important story of the family's fight against the deadly disease.
"No one wants to hear your kid has cancer," Sylvia said. "No one wants to hear your child has a 50-percent survival rate."
But Tyler has overcome those odds and celebrating his one year milestone alongside the Sharks - a team who has become so much more to the DeCourcey's since that day in January when the boys were promoted to superhero status - was just what the doctor ordered.
"Oh my goodness, the Sharks have gone beyond expectations," Sylvia said. "We never realized a professional sports team could be that supportive to a community, especially a small community like the pediatric cancer community. For the Sharks to dedicate time, resources and bring fun and joy to the kids - it's huge. They make them a priority."
While Tyler continues to pick-up where he left off as an energetic young boy who takes part in activities such as jiu-jitsu, swimming and, of course, playing with his brother, the mentality in the DeCourcey household is a little different in what Sylvia calls the "after cancer life."
"This journey has taught us there are many things out of our control and you truly have to just let it go," she said. "Normal stresses of everyday life are no longer what we stress about."
And she hopes that seeing Tyler and Alex at center ice served as an influential message to those at the "Shark Tank" and beyond.
"The main thing with pediatric cancer is there is always hope no matter what," Sylvia said. "Through these battles, no matter what the outcome is, your child is strong, your child is a warrior. They win."