For 16-year-old Victoria Boehm, hockey isn’t just a sport; it is a release from a tough reality.
In early July 2012, as other teens were beginning summer jobs and planning their next social excursion, Victoria was faced with a diagnosis that would change her life.
When the words ‘Hodgkin’s lymphoma’ escaped the mouth of her doctor, Victoria could hardly believe it.
“I really didn’t know what to think. It was crazy,” said the Grade 11 student. “I was wondering ‘how is this possible?’ I was completely speechless.”
After it was determined that the swollen lymph nodes on her lower neck were cancerous, Victoria found herself amidst a flurry of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
“I’ve been super exhausted. It is really hard to do the stuff I want to do,” explained the girls’ hockey right winger. “Trying out for hockey this season was tough, I was just so tired and didn’t feel good. I went anyways because I knew that after going to hockey I would feel better, and I did.”
Despite facing such hurdles, Victoria shot for the stars and fell just short of her ultimate goal of landing a spot on the triple-A squad, which would have seen her fulfill her dream of playing in the Macs Midget AAA World Invitational Tournament.
“I’ve watched that tournament for as long as I can remember.”
Hockey season officially opened for Victoria on Saturday as her Calgary Girls Hockey Midget A Fury skated away with a 4-1 victory. No matter what team she is on, Victoria just loves to play the game, doing her best to book her medical appointments around her hockey schedule.
Coincidently her favorite aspect of hockey also resonates in her battle with cancer.
“It’s about the team and how everyone works so hard to get one person to succeed; that one goal,” expressed Victoria, whose family and friends have been an incredible support system through it all. In fact, her good friend Erin Gallon shaved her own head, alongside Victoria to reinforce that bald is beautiful.
In addition to spending time on the ice, Victoria has been spending a lot of time on the keyboard utilizing Twitter as an avenue to document the highs and lows of her journey.
“It’s become a way for me to vent,” explained Victoria. “It’s kind of weird to see total strangers tweet that they care and support me. It’s a journal that I can write about what I am going through.”
Her @CuzIHaveCancer account has gained celebrity recognition, as she has been tweeted by women’s hockey superstar Hayley Wickenheiser, Calgary Flames draft pick Jon Gillies (her favourite NHL team), Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman, Michael Oher, among others.
While Victoria says she is blown away by the inspirational messages she has received, she shies away from the notion that her Twitter account has also been a source of encouragement to others.
However, Victoria does have a simple, but resonating message for others who find themselves in a similar situation. “Stay positive because at the end of the day, it’s not the end of the world. Even if you think it is, I promise things will get better,”
The Hitmen are proud to have this courageous young woman as an ambassador for the Hitmen Fight Cancer Campaign. The campaign will also provide Kids Cancer Care of Alberta with funding for its uniquely designed hospital, camp and scholarship programs that support young people and their families affected by cancer.
Funds will also be raised for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Prairies/NWT Region for research grants and community health projects including prevention and education, screening, diagnosis, treatment and care.
Join the Calgary Hitmen, in partnership with Delta West Academy on Sunday October 28th for the Hitmen Fight Cancer game where players will wear pink jerseys in support of the cancer initiative. An extra special feature at this year’s annual event will see the ice painted pink!
The game-worn pink jerseys along will be featured in an online auction until Tuesday, October 30 at 8 p.m. MT. Fans can bid on these one-of-a-kind items by visiting www.elevateauctions.com/hitmenhockeycancer. Proceeds from the jersey auction will be shared by both cancer foundations along with 50/50 funds and on-site donations from the Hitmen Fight Cancer game. Winning bidders will be presented with jerseys following the home game on Friday, November 9.
A special ticket offer is available for the Hitmen Fight Cancer game through Smart Betty, a local fundraising organization, with a portion of the ticket proceeds going to both foundations. To purchase these tickets, please register at http://calgary.smartbetty.com/.