Turning the page on a tough weekend and coming off a bye week, it is a fresh start for us in many ways. At 2-2 we are where we are, but we feel we are capable of much more. We have shown flashes of greatness, but it is a fine line for our team and we need to strive for consistency. There were many positive signs from our first quarter of the season and I still think we are scratching the surface in becoming the team that we are capable of being.
My best friend, Kyle Miller, brother of our goalie Brandon, is suffering from a rare form of cancer and after being told by his oncologist that there is nothing more that could be offered to him in Canada, he and his fiancé, Vanessa, have pursued alternative treatment in Freeport, Bahamas.
The timing of our visit to Kyle couldn’t have been better, coming off two tough losses, lacrosse couldn’t have been further from my mind as my wife Alex and daughter Sawyer spent the week with Kyle and Vanessa in the Bahamas. Kyle has been struggling lately, managing the pain of his tumors and dealing with the intense fevers that are initiated by his treatment. Brandon had been planning on visiting the week after, but decided to jump on the plane early with me to surprise Kyle. It was a cool moment to see Kyle surprised and excited to see his older brother. It was also really neat to see “uncle Kyle” spend some time with my newborn daughter.
Kyle and I grew up playing on every hockey and lacrosse team together since the age of 8 years old. After we graduated from high school in our hometown, we went on to attend Salisbury Prep, in Conn. I think we spent so much time together that we could have applied for common law benefits. Kyle was always such a smart, skilled, and unselfish player (in every sport that he played). He was a high-level box lacrosse player and would likely be in the NLL as a d-transition player (rare for any field lacrosse goalie). He was one of the best ground ball players that I have ever played with — which was likely a product of the lacrosse system that we grew up in.
After Salisbury, Kyle went off to Cornell and I went to Georgetown. A week before we were to play against each other for the first time in our career, Kyle called to tell me that he had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma. This was obviously a devastating surprise. He started chemo immediately and had surgery to remove a portion of his leg (from the bottom of his knee to the top of his foot). He miraculously came back to finish his career at Cornell and play for the 2006 Canadian National Team that won the gold medal; Kyle finished the game in net.
Kyle’s cancer had been in remission for nine years until a monthly scan exposed a growth on his lung. He is currently exploring several treatment options and continues to display that intangible toughness and will that has carried him through this journey. I’m sure Kyle has experienced some dark times throughout this process, but he has never let it show. I’ve honestly never heard any bitterness or complaints. Being down in the Bahamas and seeing first hand what he is experiencing has made my respect for Kyle grow. Kyle’s family, and particularly his fiancé Vanessa provide Kyle with amazing support. That support combined with Kyle’s toughness makes me believe that he will BEAT cancer for a second time.
Kyle watches all the Wings games and our players all think about Kyle before we step on the floor to compete in every game … reminds us of the power of sport and the importance of family and TEAM.
Kevin Crowley has organized a clinic called “Throw with Pros,” this Friday afternoon after our game. The weather will dictate time and location. Follow @kevincrowley21 for updates. Also visit www.kylemiller35.com to find out more ways to support Kyle.
Hope to see you out this Friday morning at 11:00 a.m. It should be a fun and unique experience to play that early in the day. Some of our Wings fans may be substituting their beer for a cup of coffee ... or maybe not?