Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Sue Deacon Cup a remarkable celebration of life and hockey humanitarian gesture

Having lost her battle with ovarian cancer on June 3, 2013, Sue Deacon left behind more than a loving family, but a group of individuals from Toronto’s Bill Bolton hockey league. The league members would become like a second family to Deacon providing friendship and support during a challenging time. Considering that she did not begin league play until after her diagnosis, her spirit for the game, and for life in general, was inspiring.

Initially diagnosed during March 2002, she was only given a 40% percent chance of surviving another two years. Just 39 years old at the time, she exceeded those two years and positively impacted a lot of others lives. Forging on for another 11 years, hockey became its own form of therapy.

As the sound of skates sliced up the clean ice surface and the roar of the sirens echoed throughout the arena, it would prove to be a pleasant distraction from the constant checkups that took place every three weeks. Planning her treatments around her hockey schedule was testament to her love of the game, resisting the stresses that cancer caused.

While she logged over 400 hospital visits, endured 28 rounds of chemo and lost her hair more times than anyone should, her life was like the red light that flashed when a goal was scored. Every time Deacon arrived at Bill Bolton, it was like the red light came on, signifying another day of hockey to cherish. Those who played with her would be the first to say that on the ice, Deacon was a player, and not a patient.  

Through this inspiration, the league was determined to find a way to honor her life, memory and love of the game. Deciding to hold a memorial tournament which would raise funds for ovarian cancer research, the Sue Deacon Memorial Cup came to fruition. Fittingly, it would be held at Bill Bolton Arena in her memory.

Media contacts for the event included players Georgina Watts and Christine Deacon, who pulled double duty. Karen Cinq-Mars from Ovarian Cancer Canada, the only charity in Canada dedicated to fighting the disease, while providing education and awareness, was involved in a show of solidarity. 

Four female teams would take part in the event, including the Red Rockets, the Maple Leafs, the White Squirrels and the Billy B Blues. Of note, Watts and Deacon played together for the Red Rockets, with Watts proudly serving as team captain. Deirdre Norman, a key fixture at Bill Bolton Area, who also provides her time for the Toronto Furies as a game day manager suited up for the Blues. In addition, there was also a men's tournament with four teams lacing up their skates in a noble cause. 

In its aftermath, a remarkable celebration of life took place when the Sue Deacon Cup was hosted. A special time for a group of women whose lives were not only positively touched by hockey, but by Deacon's courage and perseverance, all involved were true hockey humanitarians. 

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