On Oct. 6, 17-year-old hockey player Eddie Klein was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but the diagnosis hasn’t kept him from the ice.
Klein, a senior at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, New Jersey, and the captain of the school’s hockey team, said he thought immediately about hockey when doctors diagnosed him with cancer.
“I just started to think about, well, missing hockey … and how it’d change the rest of the year, the next several months,” he told Fox5.
He didn’t want to sit out if he was allowed to play, so he decided with his parents to play through chemotherapy— even after surgeons implanted a port in his chest.
“It was really Edward that really said ‘I want to play’ and signed the papers and signed the waivers,” his father, Ed Klein, told Fox5. “I knew the coaches would do the right thing.”
The St. Joseph’s community rallied around Klein, organizing a night to raise awareness for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which affects fewer than 200,000 Americans annually. The disease is a type of lymphoma, a cancer that originates in the white blood cells.
Klein met New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and received a purple New York Rangers jersey from his favorite player, Chris Kreider. But the one thing that topped it all was a call from NHL legend Mario Lemieux, during Klein’s last round of chemo. Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s in 1993, successfully beating the disease and now running a foundation to fund a cure for cancer.
On the call, Lemieux shared tips with Klein, reminding him that he’d be OK and citing his career after cancer as an example.
Klein’s final round of chemo was on Dec. 28, and he played for the undefeated Green Knights in the Bergen County Hockey tournament this weekend— cancer free.
“I haven’t told him personally this, but he’s made me a better coach this year,” Larry Mahurter, coach of the St. Joseph Regional Hockey Team, told Fox5. “I want to work harder for these kids, I want to work hard for him.”
Klein said he’s learned not to take anything for granted after the past months.
“Every game, you never know when it’s going to be your last,” he told the news station. “So you just gotta give it your all in everything.”