In November 2009 I was having a little trouble digesting and after a few weeks I decided it was time to go see a doctor. On December 07, 2009 my doctor visit resulted in him requesting an endoscopy. This is when they snake a camera down your esophagus and see what's going on. They did and needless to say there was a tumor in my lower esophagus and upper stomach. This was on December 15. On December 17 I got the bad news that I had cancer. This type of Cancer was rarely found in men my age. I was only 39 at the time. After a couple of weeks of tests I was ready for surgery. I was scheduled for surgery in NYU on January 15, 2010. The surgery was going to be about 9 hours. They had to do a couple of different procedures. From January 1-January 15 I had a lot of thinking to do about life. The most important thing for me at that time was the support from friends and Family.
I have been lifelong Ranger fan. My first game was on March 30, 1975 against the Kansas City Scouts. I was with my dad, mom and brother. I have been an on again off again season ticket holder for almost 35 years now. I was lucky enough to have season tickets in 94. I sat in section 303 row N. That row is no longer there. It is now handicap seating. Last year I was also a season ticket holder in Section 344. I went to every game with my 8 year old son. He is also an avid hockey player as a goalie. During the first couple of weeks of January this year I was receiving some calls from my MSG representative named Robert. Robert would call me up during the year and invite me to some Ranger events. In January this was no different. On January 13th I received a call from Rob in which he asked if my whole family would like to join the Rangers at an event. I respectfully declined and was very hesitant to tell him what was going on. I think he had a sixth sense because he asked me if everything was alright. He said that he went to my seats a couple of times over the past few weeks to give my boy a Ranger bag with some goodies and also to introduce himself. Some of the regulars in Section 343 and 344 told him I had not been around. Don't worry I gave the tickets to friends. Rob was clearly moved by my whole situation and asked if he can do anything. He assured me that I had complete support from the entire Ranger Family. He wasn't kidding.
As my surgery date came closer the anxiety increased. I consciously tried to keep everything normal in the lives of my wife and two young children. Out of work now for almost a month I did what I could to keep busy. If not at the Doctor I would take the kids to school and pick them up. Take them to McDonalds or Wendy's after school. A day before my surgery on the morning of January 14th is when reality kicked in. Although my life had completely changed a month ago I was surely now in the battle of my life. I needed to be strong for my wife and kids. The morning of January 14th was as normal for me as every other morning over that past month. I dropped my son off to school at around 8:30am and then took my daughter to her pre-school at around 9:00am. I stopped that morning to pick up my wife an everything bagel which she loves dearly. When I got home at around 9:15am I walked into my home and saw my wife crying and not able to talk. I could only imagine what was going though her head. I could only consol her for I expected that her emotions did not need explaining what was wrong. I could only assure her that everything was going to be alright. This attention was a role reversal over that past month. I was always on the receiving end of the reassurance. But this morning was very different. When she was able to gain control she mumbled the words "I....I...I...I....I.....just got off the....phone....with.......Adam Graves"! My reaction was one filled with many emotions. Surprised, amazed, confused and many more. After getting those words out I swear it took her almost 10 minutes to explain the premise of the call and that he would be calling me back within the hour to talk. Adam Graves wanted to talk to me, unbelievable! She had gone on to tell me that he was glad he was able to talk to her and asked if there was anything she needed. Adam was very sensitive about what she was going through. I was literally shaking. It was the one of the most nerve racking hours of my life but like clockwork that phone rang and when it did I was lost at what to do.
That phone call lasted around 45 minutes. We spoke about so many things. Rangers and life and what made them so important to me and Adam. It was amazing that we both have this common bond. We both love life and both are lifelong Rangers! I tried to end the phone call a few times saying that I took up so much of his time but each time I said this he shot me down. It was like I was the only person in the world. I was the only one he had time for. When we finally decided to end the call he pleaded that I stay strong, do well and keep in touch. He needed me to give him updates and call him if I needed to talk. One last thing he asked if I can hand the phone to Joan, my wife. He asked for her by name. I was tearing at the time and knew Joan was going to lose it. I said goodbye to Adam and handed her the phone. Just as I expected she only able to mumble Ok with tears strolling down her face. OK......OK.....Ok....and then one big Thank You. That was it. That was all it took to make one family find the strength it needed to make it through the toughest time of their lives.
After a 9 hour surgery in January and nearly four months of chemo-therapy I am happy to say that on May 21st I was deemed Cancer-free. I have hit some bumps in the road but for the most part I am doing well. I am back at work full time and very active with my children. My son is still playing goalie for a youth hockey travel team and I am one of his coaches. If life doesn't stress you out enough try coaching youth hockey. As for Adam I have been emailing him on and off for the past 8 or so months. My last email was at the end of September. I told him about what was going on and said I was going to be at the pre-season game against Ottawa. That email was sent at around 1:30pm. At around 2:30pm that same afternoon my cell phone rang. Guess who. Adam was elated by the news about my health. He was so happy for me and my family. Unfortunately he was not going to that game saying he was still in Toronto. Adam asked that I give him a call next time I go to the Garden. He wants to buy me a drink and introduce me to some of his "friends".
To all who will read this story, it is one not about me but about a great athlete and an even greater person who is taking his post-professional fame and
...oh yeah, Adam Graves is a big pile of awesomeness.