Being diagnosed with cancer at age three, Steve Cash’s memories are limited. But his parents and brother recalled that time a bit more vividly. They remembered trips to the park and zoo for R&R (rest and relaxation), and even to the TV to play video games.
Those not only helped the now US ice sledge hockey goaltender get through, as he described, the “darkest days,” but also his family.
With 4 February marking World Cancer Day, Cash’s heart goes out to both the patient and families walking through difficult times.
“World Cancer Day is a day that hits home to me because while it symbolises a very significant time in my life, it spreads awareness for those who may not have thought about the impact that cancer has on thousands of people and families every day,” Cash said.
“As many know, cancer doesn’t just affect the patient, it affects all that are around him/her,” Cash added. “With my family it was no different as I had three older brothers who were forced to call somewhere else home for two years because my parents refused to let me feel isolated.”
While it may seem as though there was no light-hearted moments during that time, Cash said he knows his parents saw it quite differently.
His dad’s favourite memories were while he was laid off and spent every day with him at home during the end of Cash’s treatment. They would spend hours playing video games, or his dad would take him to the park to take advantage of the short period of time his son did not feel sick. Cash said his mum and brothers had the fondest memories of when the hospital nurses would take us to the zoo for a day of R&R and to keep their minds at ease.
“While cancer, specifically bone cancer, may seem like something that takes away from your well-being, keep in mind that there are always opportunities to be greater than the obstacles you are faced with,” Cash said. “I was fortunate to have great doctors, a supportive family and cast of friends, but mostly a resilient mind and positive attitude will get you through the darkest of days.”
Cash’s right leg was amputated in 1992 due to bone cancer. The Overland, Missouri, native started his sledge hockey career with the Disabled Athlete Sports Association St. Louis Blues in 2004 and made his first National Team in 2005.
The goaltender has helped Team USA to two Paralympic gold medals (Sochi 2014 and Vancouver 2010), and recently the 2015 World Championship title.
Cash said being a Paralympian acts as a platform or vehicle to showcase what people can do in spite of the challenges they were faced with before they entered the world stage.
“What sets a Paralympian apart is that their journey always starts before their road to the Paralympics,” he said.
Using his athletic accomplishments as a platform, Cash hopes to give a louder voice in raising awareness about cancer.
“[World Cancer Day] is a time to remind many that getting a regular screening done may save a life,” Cash said. “It is a time to take advantage of being healthy and remembering those who have fought and continue to fight against what could be the most challenging thing they face in their lives.”