“Stop playing hockey?
Might as well ask me not to breathe.”
On March 8, 2002, Sue Deacon met with her doctor to find out why she was having difficulty getting pregnant. That day, she learned there was a heartbreaking reason. Sue had advanced ovarian cancer.
In an instant, her dreams of having children were shattered. She went from planning a family, to fighting for her life. She was given just a 40% chance of a 2-year survival. She was 39.
But Sue defied those odds. With an iron will and an indomitable spirit, she lived for another 11 years and 3 months. They were not easy years. Sue visited the hospital over 400 times, undergoing 3 major surgeries, 28 rounds of chemo and losing her hair 5 times.
Even when in remission, recurrence lurked as a potential reality. Check-ups every three months meant that fear of recurrence played a key role in her life.
But despite the anxiety and suffering, Sue also had many rich and beautiful experiences with her devoted partner, family and friends. It was why she never gave up and why she never stopped trying.
And Sue had hockey.
Hockey was one of Sue’s greatest joys. It sustained her through the endless treatments, the heart-breaking test results, the dashed hopes of failed drug trials and the growing realization that she would not see her beloved nieces and nephew grow up.
Hockey became Sue’s benchmark. She would gauge her progress against whether she was able to play or not. She even planned her treatments around her hockey schedule, refusing to allow cancer to dictate everything in her life.
On the ice, Sue was not a cancer patient. On the ice, Sue was a hockey player. On the ice, Sue was alive.
Treatment-induced osteoporosis left Sue fragile and as a result, she suffered several broken bones while playing. But she refused to quit. After her third break a close friend commented, “It’s too bad Sue will have to give up hockey now, she loves it so much.” To which Sue replied; “Stop playing hockey? Might as well ask me not to breathe.”