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On Monday, November 5, 2018, an NHL player scored a hat-trick for the New Jersey Devils in their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Devils would later go on to beat the Penguins by a score of 5-1. Now, of course, every hat trick is special simply because they help a team beat another team. But this hat trick was notably special. Besides the valuable distinction of scoring three goals in one game, it was completed by one Brian Boyle, and it was the first hat trick of his 11-year career and came after 705 career games. However, even with all of that, there is still more to the story of this hat trick by Brian Boyle. What else is there, you ask?
Well, consider the fact that Brian Boyle is also a cancer survivor, and this hat trick came only one week after the doctors announced to him that his chronic myelogenous leukemia was in full remission. That’s right folks. You might think you are tough, and some of you no doubt are extremely tough. However, you aren’t score-an-NHL-hat-trick-one-week-after-beating-cancer tough. There just aren’t too many people who are that tough, except for maybe Rocky Bleier of NFL fame who actually came back from losing part of his leg in Vietnam to continue playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970’s.
Brian Boyle would play in his first game with the New Jersey Devils just immediately after his diagnosis with cancer on November 1, 2017. He would score his first goal after his diagnosis on November 9, 2017 with a slapshot against the Edmonton Oilers. “I’ve never cried after a goal before,” Boyle said of the experience. “That’s a great feeling. It’s everything.” Boyle would later go on to compete in the all-star game in January of this year, all the while fighting his cancer.
Interestingly enough, Boyle actually scored his hat trick on Hockey Fights Cancer Night, which is held every November 5th. Of course, even though he could give himself a pat on the back, he knows that he is a role model for everyone else who is struggling with cancer. He wants to show them what is possible and tell them he understands what they are going through.
“Sometimes you feel kind of alone,” he said. “It can be a dark place during a cancer fight.” Indeed, and only someone who has truly experienced it can fully understand what can go through someone’s mind when they are facing this disease.
“The worst part of it was people feel sorry for you,” he continued. “They don’t know what to say. You want them to feel comfortable.”
Still, Boyle realizes that being a superstar on the NHL ice and beating cancer just wouldn’t be possible without the support of all of those who cared for him.
“I think it’s important to just reach out and just ask questions if you need the help,” he noted. “I was fortunate enough to be uplifted by all the people in here, my family.”
Brian Boyle has definitely proven that he is more than just another hockey player. He has probed the depths of human existence and shown what we are capable of if we put our minds to it. He is the personification of “Roll with it, baby!” in the words of 1980’s artist Steve Winwood. Boyle will no doubt inspire many individuals who are fighting cancer to realize that they too can defeat their cancer. If an individual like Brian Boyle is able to not only conquer cancer but also continue to be an NHL superstar, then yes, they can beat their cancer as well. Congratulations to Brian Boyle are definitely in order!