RMU Alum Battles Cancer
As November turns to December, many college hockey players (and a few coaches) will shave for the first time in a month, bringing an end to “Movember,” designed to raise awareness of men’s health issues.
Even without those visual reminders, college hockey fans should know that testicular cancer still has a face in the game: former Robert Morris captain Chris Kushneriuk.
Kushneriuk, 25, was diagnosed with cancer in the offseason, while preparing for his second full pro season with the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors. The Ottawa native has undergone treatment already and next week will embark on another round of significant – and costly – treatments in Indiana.
Derek Schooley and his Robert Morris team have helped raise money to support Kushneriuk, and the coach recently took a break from a recruiting trip to drop off a check to his former player. But rather than trumpet what’s been done, Schooley focuses on the challenges that still lie ahead.
“Everything he does is going to be out-of-pocket right now,” Schooley said. “Anything that people can do to help is really appreciated. He’s a world-class human being, he was a three-year captain with us. If anyone is going to beat this it’s going to be him because of his fighting spirit.”
The Hockey News and other media outlets have told Kushneriuk’s story. His pro teams, the Condors and the Wheeling Nailers, have both joined the Colonials to support his fight.
Kushneriuk, who fans can follow on Twitter (@StoneColdKush), has kept an upbeat outlook throughout his fight. The chriskushneriuk.org web site features a photo of him giving a thumbs up – while lying in a hospital bed.
“When something like this happens, you really look at life in a different light and you see things differently,” he told USCHO.com in October. “I really appreciate things more like family and friends – the true finer things in life, not the material things. I wake up every day excited for having another chance to fight this.”
Schooley has taken note of that approach.
“His attitude has always been positive, and his work ethic is second to none,” he said. “It really hits home when you think about a 25-year-old facing this.
“Hopefully Chris can beat this and he’ll be back to drop the puck at one of our opening games, cancer-free.”