I don’t know what you guys were doing when you were 17-years-old, but more than likely, it involved procrastination, underage parties, and feeling liberated as you inched closer to college. But for New Jersey hockey bro Eddie Klein, a portion of 17 was spent battling Stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma — a diagnosis he received on October 6th, 2015.
He received the news from his mom, but instead of sitting around thinking about how his illness could hold him back or affect his life, Klein’s attention immediately zoned in on hockey. Despite his diagnosis, he was determined to suit up.
“My family knew I didn’t want to sit out.” Klein told FOX 5 New York. “If I was allowed to play, I was going to play.”
The St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.) hockey captain was diagnosed with a one of the most curable forms of cancer. It carries a five-year, 81 percent survival rate. However, as most know, cancer and other diseases can sometimes take a turn. This is why Klein — with backing from his parents, Ed and Susan — opted to play throughout his treatment, despite having a port implanted in his chest to administer chemotherapy.
Klein went through three months of cancer treatment, with support from some very prominent sports figures: New York Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning, who visited Klein, and a purple jersey he received from his favorite New York Rangers’ player, Chris Kreider.
But during Klein’s final round of chemotherapy on Dec. 28, NHL legend and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux called Klein, and gave him advice on what life would be like after he beat cancer. Lemieux battled the same disease in the 1993 season, and has since, gone on to found the Mario Lemieux Foundation to raise awareness about the disease.
“Every game… you never know when it’s going to be your last…” Said Klein. “So you just have to give it your all in everything.
While Klein is just a teenager, his story of is a reminder to the people out there who use hangovers as an excuse for missing work, that someone, somewhere out there is much more badass than you.
Klein’s relentless persistence to stay on the ice should also be a reminder to the athletes out there who do stupid things that ultimately cost them playing time, money, or eligibility, that someone, somewhere out there is working harder than you for your job through much tougher adversity, so get it together.
As the great Mario Lemieux once said, “Play without fear, and you will be successful.” We’ve all been affected by cancer in one way or another. But for a 17-year-old kid to be so persistent in maintaining normalcy while facing the toughest battle of his life, shows the rest of us that our excuses for not getting shit done are invalid.
Eddie Klein is a true bro, and I hope he has a fulfilling, healthy, and successful life.
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