But as it happens, on February 4th, World Cancer Day I hit the reset button on my life. I had been put on to an amazing man from my hometown of Edmonton, Alberta. Steve Csorba is an amazing local artist and a member of the November Project Tribe. The November Project is a really cool phenomenon that started in Boston with 2 students wanting to workout with groups rather than alone. They starting sending out messages over social media announcing a location and people slowly started growing up in bigger numbers.
This project has now started to spread and it arrived in Edmonton when Andrew Ference was traded from the Boston Bruins to the Edmonton Oilers. Andrew is a committed member of the tribe and under his leadership it has exploded. One of my good friends, Connor, who regularly attends the workouts told me about this amazing guy in a Fuck Cancer tshirt that had been kicking the shit out of cancer. This guy is Steve.
I had sent Steve a quick message about my situation on Twitter. He got back to me almost immediately and helped put me at ease. He didn't tell me anything out of this world but getting kind words from a person that has kept cancer at bay for over a decade was really powerful. I occasionally would fire him a note when I felt nervous and he would quell me. Finally, I decided I needed to meet him and I asked him to meet me for lunch.
He gave me a selection of 5 really hip places, none of which I had ever eaten at, but they all sounded great. We agreed upon Remedy. A really neat cafe that serves chai tea and eastern food. Kim and I were never really into small cafés and since we've had children, a quick bowl of pasta at Boston Pizza has masqueraded as cuisine so this was a neat experience.
I arrived and saw Steve already seated at a table. I made my order and sat down to join him. This man is incredibly impressive and I did not want to waste a minute of his time so I had mentally prepared a list of questions I wanted to ask him. We started to chat casually about life in general but then I steered the conversation towards cancer. Steve took it in stride and explained what he had been through in the past decade. I won't get into the details as it's his story but please believe me when I say it's incredibly invasive and scary.
I looked at him as he happily discussed the worst moments of his life and was in awe. Every time he spoke I was filled with a little more hope. This guy had been to the absolute bottom of the well, and now he was seemingly on top of the mountain.
The best advice Steve gave me was to not think about beating the cancer. Rather, he told me to control what I can and that is getting my body and mind healthy. This was almost all the cancer talk; I didn't need to hear any more. After this we talked about how he stays healthy and makes the world a better place. I listened intently and realized I'd found someone that has found the keys to happiness.
We started talking about my #cancercanthackett tour plans and he was all in. He had some thoughts for the Alberta Cancer Foundation about a prevention and screening campaign that aligned very well with my plans. I began getting pumped up and truly excited about what we might be able to do together. After 90 minutes we said our goodbyes and I immediately phoned Kim and told her I was going to change the world with this guy.
That night I got to continue my return to form by refereeing my first hockey game in over 3 months. I picked up my linesmen and we headed off to Vegreville, Alberta. Home of the worst biggest Easter egg.
As we bombed down the highway we listened to old school gangster rap and I lamented the fact that these 2 had just been born when I was listening to Snoop and Dre and acting like a bad ass. We arrived at the arena just in time for warmup and I got right into my routine. Before I knew it I was out taking a coue of warmup laps and dropping the pick at centre ice.
I got into the game right away as there was an easy tripping call 22 seconds in and a power play goal 30 seconds after that. This was a perfect game to return to as it was one sided on the score board and really rough so I had to manage the game very carefully. When it was all said and done I had tossed a half dozen players and called around 100 penalty minutes.
I had known the Vegreville coach for a long time as he was originally from Edmonton so before the game when he had asked why it had been so long since
he had seen me I told him about my situation. After the game every member of the Vegreville Rangers came by and shook my hand and wished me well. This was very touching.
After the game we quickly showered and hustled down the road to 7-11 to get chicken. This might sound awful but Vegreville 7-11 chicken is delicious and a tradition of the road trip. BUT, you have to beat the visiting team there or sow times it's all gone and you drive home sad and hungry. Luckily we made it and had our pick.
We cruise home blasting Uptown Funk and just chatting. This was the best night I'd had in months because for 4 hours I wasn't a Cancer patient or an out of work teacher. I was just one of the guys doing our thing.
Stay tuned for Part II, San Fran Training Trip