Hockey Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk is grateful for a solid support group as he continues his fight against stomach cancer.
"Doing good," the former NHL star told TSN's Ray Ferraro and Darren Dreger in The Ray & Dregs Hockey Podcast this week. "I've had so much support in the hockey world...it's actually pretty emotional at times, especially early on."
Hawerchuk was diagnosed last August and underwent chemotherapy, followed by surgery to remove his stomach. He's scheduled for a 'clean-up' round of chemotherapy in a couple of weeks and continues to work with doctors and his own family in his recovery.
"Five or six months ago, this was what I was hoping would happen and I'm here now," he continued. "So I keep pushing though. I feel stronger every day.
“I really listen to the doctors; I do some alternative stuff as well to get myself stronger. There are all sorts of cancer-fighting things out there to stay on top of and my wife helps me with that."
Hawerchuk took a leave of absence as head coach of the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts for the season. He played in the NHL for 16 years before retiring in 1997. He played 1,188 games with Winnipeg, Buffalo, St. Louis and Philadelphia, scoring 518 goals and 1,409 points.
His lifelong work around the game has built up a network of former teammates and colleagues who are providing advice and help. But Hawerchuk also knows it's on himself to stay informed and aware of his own health.
"As you get into your 50s, you've got to do your research and homework on things – keep yourself healthy," he explained. "The biggest thing I've learned through all this [is that] to fight cancer, to don't even get into the fight. Prevent it. You can learn so much on the internet now on prevention, getting cancer.
“These are things you learn along the way and my family support has been incredible. I can't imagine trying to go through this alone, but my family has been so strong. Even with the support from all my friends. I'm fighting on. I want to live this through. The hard part is the unknown and when you can talk to people who can give you some heads up on what your fight's going to be like, then when you get there you say, ‘Okay this is normal and I just gotta push through this.’
"So, let everyone know I'm pushing forward, feeling good and I'm feeling stronger. I feel like I'm going to beat this."