On Friday, November 26th, the Charlottetown Islanders join the rest of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in the fight against cancer when they take on the Quebec Remparts in their annual Hockey Fights Cancer game.
Hockey’s involvement in raising funds for cancer research is a long, storied one. At all levels of hockey, from the National Hockey League to grassroots levels around the world, teams and organizations have come together to combat a terrible disease that has affected everyone at some level. As that has happened, incredible bonds have been formed with teams, players, and survivors; courageous stories get put in the forefront and communities rally around deserving heroes.
In Charlottetown, that heroic story came courtesy of Kellan McAdam. Two years ago, Kellan joined the Islanders for their Hockey Fights Cancer game as a special guest of the team, in particular goaltender Matthew Welsh. The duo formed a special bond along the course of Kellan’s courageous journey.
A bond forever: how hockey helps Kellan McAdam fight cancer
“Kellan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, otherwise known as ALL,” said Kellan’s mother, Vicki, in 2019. “He was three and a half when he was first diagnosed.”
ALL is defined by the National Cancer Institute as a type of blood cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). It’s known as one of the more common forms of childhood cancer; according to the Canadian Cancer Society, 985 Canadian children between the ages of 2-14 were diagnosed with ALL.
For those previously unaware of the connection between Kellan and Welsh, it’s a story that began early in Kellan’s journey. The pair met at a Children’s Wish Foundation Christmas party, where they instantly hit it off. The pair would constantly lift each other up; Welsh would send videos and well wishes to Kellan during his treatments, while Kellan’s strength was inspiration for Welsh to endlessly fight.
To properly recognize Kellan on his journey, Welsh and the Islanders invited Kellan to take part in their Hockey Fights Cancer game. He dropped the puck for a unique ceremonial puck drop between his friend, Matthew Welsh, and Francesco Lapenna, then-goaltender for the visiting Val d’Or Foreurs. Kellan and his family then spent the game watching from a suite as the Islanders won in dramatic fashion with a Thomas Casey hat trick, including the overtime winner. It was the perfect ending to a perfect evening.
Fast forward to 2021. The treatment for ALL is a long, arduous one; Vicki explained in 2019 that Kellan received chemotherapy orally daily, in addition to a monthly dose in his implanted port and into his spine every three months. It’s a treatment that requires three years to complete.
For Kellan, that journey came to a successful close this past August. After 1,161 days, Kellan received his final chemotherapy treatment on August 1st. He rang the bell in October to signify that he defeated ALL. He’s already joined the Islanders once this season, serving as a flagbearer at a recent home game.
This Friday, the Charlottetown Islanders welcome Kellan McAdam back to the Eastlink Centre as a guest to celebrate his cancer defeat.
Tickets are available in person at the Eastlink Centre Box Office, by phone at 902.629.6625, or online at www.EastlinkCentrePEI.com