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Hockey team supports mom battling cancer

As one local hockey mom was beginning to feel forgotten during her battle with cancer, a team of young players stepped up to lift her spirits.
Photo Contributed. The Peewee Silvertips hockey team arrive at the Phillips house with gifts for Laura who is battling cancer.

As one local hockey mom was beginning to feel forgotten during her battle with cancer, a team of young players stepped up to lift her spirits.

Laura Phillips was diagnosed with colon cancer in February 2016 and although she is currently in remission, the intensive treatment, including chemotherapy, over the past year has left her exhausted and sometimes depressed.

One evening in late February, cars packed with members of the Peewee Tier 3 Silvertips hockey team arrived bringing gift baskets and a Silvertips jersey pinned with numerous gift certificates.

“We were just in awe, all of a sudden one car pulls up and then another one and another one and another one and you’re amazed, and then all of a sudden all the kids come out,” said Laura’s husband Jeff. “We were expecting them but we didn’t know if there was going to be two or 30.”

Although the Phillips family were expecting a visit from the team, they didn’t imagine it would come in the form of the entire roster decked out in their game jerseys.

“It was surreal, we really weren’t expecting that many. By the time I actually got my coat on and got outside there was probably 30 people outside,” Laura said.

The team came in from the cold and performed a rousing cheer with all the enthusiasm they would on the ice right in the middle of the Phillips’ living room.

Laura said the gift cards are helpful in what remains an expensive time for the family and the team visit reminded her the battle she is fighting is still in people’s thoughts more than a year after her diagnosis.

“Those last couple rounds of chemo really hit me hard. I had my mom up from the States for a month to help out. You know when you don’t move for a whole month it really takes it out of you. I couldn’t believe how hard it is to come back from it,” she said, “You do get depressed, you’re sitting at home and you’re just putting on weight because you can’t move. So things like that are important, it is nice to know that people still care a year later. Lots of stuff happened when I was first diagnosed, but when it’s been a year and things are just as hard if not harder, it is nice to know that people are still thinking of you.”

The Phillips family had only been in Salmon Arm for six months after moving from Alberta when Laura was diagnosed. Despite being new to the area, she said the support the family have received from the community is more like what would be expected from close family.

Laura added the gesture from the Peewee Tier 3 Silvertips is especially remarkable because although all four of her sons play hockey, none of them are on that team.

The Silvertips’ visit to the Phillips family is just one part of the respectful citizenship head coach Allan Slaney, team manager Robyn Slaney and the rest of the coaching staff try to inspire in the team.

“At the end of the season we wanted to find something in our community that the team could make a positive impact, an unselfish act. We wanted these 10-12 year olds to understand that they can make a difference in someone else’s lives. Allan and I didn’t know the Phillips family until the night we showed up at their house but we had heard a little bit about their journey from other families,” Robyn said.

Along with acts like their visit to the Phillips family, Peewee Silvertips players were also assigned homework assignments such as identifying goals and working towards them or brainstorming on how to show good leadership both on and off the ice.

“We are hoping that the players will see that making small changes make big impacts and it can be achieved everyday,” Robyn said.

Laura said when the Peewee Tier 3 Silvertips take the ice against a visiting team from Colorado later this month she will be wearing her jersey and cheering on the team that cheered for her.

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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