Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Get Smuk’d Cancer

Former University of Saskatchewan Huskies forward Cody Smuk, who is battling cancer, hangs out at the Rutherford Rink.

Huskies men's hockey team raising money for the "Marty's Men" Relay for Life team for former teammate Cody Smuk

   Don't you just wish you could punch or kick cancer right in the groin?
   Wouldn't be nice to start off a hockey game with it beating it down in a five-on-five line brawl. I would like to put on the ice all in their primes Dave "The Cement Head" Semenko, Derek "The Boogeyman" Boogaard, Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, Dave Manson and Marty McSorley to lay the beat down.
   Heck, throw Ron Hextall in goal too, because we all know cancer doesn't like to fight fair. Hextall would give cancer the blindside it deserves, if he could.
   Still, the worse part about cancer is it doesn't fight fair. It seems everyone knows someone they think it isn't fair that he or she has to battle cancer.
   The University of Saskatchewan Huskies men's hockey team encountered that.
Back on March 23, 2014, they were just focused on hockey. They took the ice for the title game of the University Cup championship tournament against their long-time rivals the University of Alberta Golden Bears at the rink that was then known as the Credit Union Centre. The Golden Bears skated away with a 3-1 victory to claim a national title.
   About two months later, the Huskies encountered news that was tougher to swallow than that championship loss. Hard working and ultimate team guy forward Cody Smuk was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and he had a tumour in his right lung that was causing concern. News spread quickly throughout not just the Huskies men's hockey team but the rest of the Huskies athletic program, to the Saskatoon community at large and what seemed to any geographical corner that had a person who knew Smuk.
   Cancer has never discriminated by age, but it still didn't seem real Smuk had cancer. He is only 25. That diagnosis started a roller-coaster journey that is still ongoing in the present day.
   At 7 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday night, the Huskies men's hockey team host the Golden Bears at the Rutherford Rink. Friday's game also happens to be the "Vintage Night," where the 85th birthday of the facility will be celebrated. On both nights, a fundraiser will be held for "Marty's Men," which is the Relay for Life team for Smuk. His nickname is "Marty."
Cody Smuk and Stephanie Vause, centre, watch the Huskies.
   Last Friday, the Huskies women's hockey team held their seventh annual Play For The Cure game and the proceeds went to Choc 'la Cure in honour of Smuk. Choc 'la Cure raises funds for equipment for the Saskatoon Cancer Centre. Over $2,500 was collected from the silent auction from the Play For The Cure game.
   One should expect funds to pour in for the "Marty's Men" Relay for Life team at the men's games. Smuk is the type of person that draws people to rally around him, because he has always been very likeable.
   In June, girlfriend Stephanie Vause and her sister, Leah (Vause) Lewis, set up a profile for Smuk on the website to raise funds to help with expenses during his cancer treatments. Over $20,000 was raised in a three day period. By early November, that total grew to $33,000.
   Around the same time the profile was established, members of the Huskies men's hockey team started selling and distributing bracelets with "Get Smuk'd Cancer" inscribed on them. Almost immediately every member of the men's team was sporting those bracelets.
   In July, Smuk made a trip to Moose Jaw, where he played part of his WHL career with the Warriors. He attended a charity steak night in his honour, which was put together by his Warriors billet mom, Liza Thornberg.
   Smuk's story then took an upward swing. He originally completed chemotherapy treatments on Aug. 11. During subsequent visits to the doctor, news kept coming back that everything looked clear for the man who also played for the Chilliwack Bruins and Lethbridge Hurricanes.
   On Nov. 3, he had surgery to remove the tumour in his right lung. Smuk's outlook was looking so good the now Huskies alumnus donated $10,000 of his money to Choc 'la Cure. He was originally at the Choc 'la Cure Gala on Nov. 7, but had to spend the time resting up from his surgery.
   Before he went in for surgery, I interviewed Smuk for a story for the Saskatoon Express, and he was really optimistic. In December, he completed the final classes he needed to take for a degree in business management.
   Unfortunately, Smuk found out the fight against cancer wasn't won. Shortly before Christmas, he was informed the tumour that was removed had evidence of uniqueness to it.
The "Get Smuk'd Cancer" bracelet.
   He discovered he was dealing with another type of cancer that is usually found in children. There were also signs where the old tumour used to be that it was growing back.
   On the plus side, the cancer was only in his lung. Still, he would have to undergo a chemotherapy treatment plan that was 43 weeks in length.
   From the low of that news came another high. Over the holidays, Smuk proposed to Vause, and she said "Yes." They are one of the cutest couples you could ever see.
   As the calendar turned to the new year, Smuk began his treatments. His parents, Marty and Darla, and Vause attended the Play For The Cure game.
   Now the goal is to pull for Smuk to get through this round to go to another high. A wedding day awaits in the future.

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