Jake Dowell's on-ice battles are nothing compared to what the Wild forward faces off the ice.
Dowell's father, John, and brother, Luke, are both diagnosed with Huntington's disease, a devastating, hereditary, degenerative brain disorder with no cure.
The disease slowly diminishes the person afflicted both physically and cognitively until death.
There is a 50-50 chance that Dowell has inherited the disease. Huntington's typically begins in mid-life, between the ages of 30 and 50. Dowell, 28, is yet to be tested.
ESPN’s award-winning newsmagazine E:60 profiles the rugged center in an episode airing today, Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.
Chris Connelly reports the agonizing story of Dowell, a man facing a harrowing dilemma – undergo medical testing to determine whether he has inherited the genetic disorder that is killing his father and brother, or live with crushing uncertainty. With the love and support of his mother and wife, Dowell, whose chances of inheriting the disorder are 50-50, faces his future and the test that will reveal his fate.
Here is a clip of the program:
Quotes from the report:
Jake Dowell: It’s just such a scary thing that you have to just absolutely just be ready to accept your fate either way…It’s basically the flip of a coin…
Jake Dowell: I just was so mad at everything that was going on. I felt robbed of my dad and I felt like it was such a burden on my mom that I thought everything was unfair. I went into kind of a poor me, everybody feel bad for me for a year or two.
Carly Dowell (Wife): I know that he feels guilty and wonders ‘can I bring another person into this knowing what might happen?’
Chris Connelly: What would it be like to know that you didn’t have Huntington’s disease?
Jake Dowell: The biggest weight ever lifted off me; whatever energy that I waste worrying about this right now, I could put into my life and into helping other people.
Vicki Dowell (Mother): He either can’t have it or they have to have a cure in his lifetime (wipes eyes), because I can’t lose him. I just want him to have a long, long life filled with dreams coming true and lots of happiness and I believe he deserves that. (Breaking down) Someone in our family needs to be able to have that life…