“A hero is someone who, in spite of weakness, doubt or not always knowing the answers, goes ahead and overcomes anyway.”

-Christopher Reeve

There are moments in each of our lives’ that the word “fair” takes on an entirely different meaning.  When you’re young, it’s not “fair” that your sibling got an extra dessert. When you’re a teenager, it’s not “fair” that your friend drives a nicer car. As an adult, it’s not “fair” that someone else has more financial stability than you.  But, what about when it’s not “fair” that your child has cancer?  Or your parent? Or your spouse? How “fair” is that?

I had a mentor tell me once that “fair” is a place where hogs compete for ribbons; his point being that nothing is ever fair and what’s fair for one may not be fair for another.  Last year, I wrote a story titled “I Fight For” https://thesinbin.net/i-fight-for/ detailing my mom’s battle with cancer. I can update that story that mom is still doing well and continues to amaze me as she teaches another year of fifth graders. Sure, there are still the scary days every six months or so when she has her scans, but at this point, the time we have is a gift we’re glad to have. I’ve learned that time is precious and can’t be replaced.

That said, I still struggle with how we got to this point. I struggle with how a God-fearing mother, wife, grandmother, and teacher ever got to this crossroad of life and death.

Why do bad things happen to the best of people? I’m not sure I’ll ever know the answer, and honestly, I’m not sure it’d make sense if I did know it.

Shortly after I wrote that article a year ago, I read a story about Arianna Dougan. Ari is a young girl with cancer that had become friends with St. Louis Blues superstar, Vladimir Tarasenko. She had become such good friends, in fact, that he spent $40,000 of his own money at a Blues fundraiser to surprise her on her birthday with a trip with the team for a west coast swing. In a world where authenticity is veiled behind keyboards and computer screens, Ari is as genuine as you will find and her story is one of hope, inspiration, and motivation. The story is heartbreaking in one breath and reaffirming of one’s faith in humanity in the next.

As tears filled my eyes and fell to my cheeks, I kept coming back to the question of “How is all this fair?” This adorable young girl is attached to an oxygen tank, has the odds stacked against her, and yet; she does it all with a smile on her face.

None of this screams fair.

In fact, it screams something incredibly different…it screams fear. When met with life’s darkest challenges, a person’s fight or flight tendency is tested to the absolute max. Ari continues to fight.

The updates came back recently, Ari was not doing well and returned to the hospital. In fact, she was in dire condition and needed a ventilator to control all her breathing. Social media waited for the updates to come as numerous risky procedures were performed. I went back to the story of her and her friend, Vladimir, and the joy I saw in her eyes in those moments. The tears returned and I thought about how unfair this was, and yet she was choosing to fight. Her will to live and to smile and to do all the things little girls are supposed to do outweighed the pain and discomfort the disease had caused. It makes my personal aches, pains, and complaints seem so small and petty. It’s a humbling moment for a grown man to be in such awe of an 11-year-old girl, yet, I am.

I’m humbled by her bravery, her courage, her genuineness, her thoughtfulness, and her love for her friend, Vladdy. She’s so full of life and yet battling for her own.

Perspective is such a crazy thing to grasp, but it’s exactly what I need in those moments of clarity. I know what’s it’s like to hear those words, I have cancer, from someone you love. I remember the pain in my mother’s voice. I remember falling to my bed and staring at my 6-week-old son through my tears. I’ll never forget the fear in my mother’s eyes when I saw her at the doctor’s office. My mom is a strong woman; always in control of whatever situation she is in. Except, now she wasn’t.

It. Wasn’t. Fair.

No one’s cancer story is fair. Cancer doesn’t fight fair. It fights in the dirtiest way possible…it attacks one’s spirit. It brings even the best to their knees and forces them to confront their mortality. It forces families to make decisions no one should have to make. In the midst of the tears, inevitably the words are spoken softly…this isn’t fair. As those three simple words escape the lips, the reality truly sets in; it’s not.

As we enter Hockey Fights Cancer month and the Kansas City Mavericks move towards Hockey for Hope weekend in early December, I have teamed up again with the Have a Skate with Bob Foundation to raise money for pancreatic cancer research.

An incredible grassroots fundraising campaign began that started with an innocent tweet I sent out saying my family would be donating $10 for every point Mavericks winger Rocco Carzo scored from October 13th through November 11th. Since that tweet, others have pledged to donate $1 per save, $1 per PIM, $10 per fight, and we are now at $120 donated for every Rocco Carzo point. Over $500 was raised in the Mavericks first four games of the season through these pledges.

This Hockey Fights Cancer month; I challenge every reader of The Sin Bin, regardless of who your favorite team is, to adopt something (player, PIM, save, fight) and donate to a cancer research fund of your choice.

Our efforts will culminate with the Have a Skate with Bob game at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena on December 2nd. I will again be playing again in memory of the late Rocco Carzo II and you are welcome to donate to my First Giving page if you’d like to help in the fight against cancer. We won’t fight fair and we’ll fight with all we have.

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