If ever there was a story of inspiration and community – this is it. While we expected Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer to attract all types of hockey fans, we didn’t expect to find eight moms – who have never played hockey before – forming a team in honour of one young hockey player who battled cancer and won. This is the story of Hunter Miller and eight moms who have taken up hockey as a part of their fight for life.
When your kid has cancer, you don’t have a choice.
On Hunter Miller’s twelfth birthday he was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma – a type of cancer that attacks the cells of the lymphatic system. He spent the next eight months battling cancer, travelling from his home in Oliver, BC, to Vancouver every month for treatment. On April 5, 2012, Hunter was told he was in remission. Two months and one day later, Hunter’s grandfather passed away from a brief but aggressive fight against lung cancer. When Hunter saw a Facebook post from the Canadian Cancer Society, BC & Yukon, announcing an upcoming road hockey tournament to raise funds supporting the Society’s mission to eradicate cancer, he told his mom that he wanted to play.
Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer makes its debut in Vancouver on October 13, 2012. The dawn-to-dusk tournament will welcome up to 100 teams competing in five hockey games. The event, one of four in Canada, has the goal of raising $1.5 million for programs supporting people living with cancer as well as cancer research.
Denise Miller, Hunter’s mom, started to look in to the tournament and soon realized Hunter was still too young to participate. Without hesitation, she formed her own team of eight moms to play for her son. Their team is called Gina’s Rock – an acronym for Giving In Is Not Acceptable.
“When your kid has cancer, you don’t have a choice,” explains Denise. “You can’t give up.”
The mommy team, none of whom have played hockey before, has been practicing every Wednesday night with a coach since July. One other mom in the group has a son who has been cancer free for 12 years. Aiden Kirs was diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma when he was three months old and underwent 15 months of cancer treatment before going into remission. Aiden and Hunter are both in grade eight now.
“This experience has brought me closer to this community of moms,” says Denise. “We’re all united in our one goal of raising cancer awareness and the need to fight it.”
With 940 new cases of Hodgkin Lymphoma expected to be diagnosed in Canada in 2012, Denise knows it’s a fight worth tackling.
Donations for Gina’s Rock and other Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer teams can be made through the event website. Thanks to Gina’s Rock for your amazing dedication, as momss and cancer fighters. We look forward to seeing you in action!