When Is Hockey Fights Cancer Month? [Fact Checked!]

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If you’re reading this, I assume you’re either passionate about hockey or you’re reading it because you’re curious about when Hockey Fights Cancer Month is.

To put it simply, Hockey Fights Cancer Month is the month where the National Hockey League honors players, teams, and events that help support cancer research and treatment. It was created in 2010 in conjunction with the NHL Community Goals program to promote hockey as a way of life and to inspire fans, players, and families.

Each year, the NHL honors a different type of cancer with Hockey Fights Cancer Month. This year, the league is focusing on men and women battling neuroblastoma. So, let’s take a closer look at this month and its rich history.

The Stanley Cup Is Back In The City That Never Sleeps

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Stanley Cup, which this year is returning to its birthplace, New York City. The NHL is celebrating this centennial by bringing the championship trophy back to town for the first time since 1939. (The New York Rangers will be hosting this year’s tournament.)

Since the inception of the Stanley Cup, the most prestigious trophy in all of sports, New York City has been the residence of the cup. The great depression caused the cancellation of the NHL seasons in 1937 and 1938, leaving the Stanley Cup out of state for two years. (The New York Rangers were the last team to hold the cup, passing it on to the Detroit Red Wings in 1939.)

In the intervening years, many great athletes, musicians, and politicians were associated with the cup. One of the most recent notable holders of the Stanley Cup was President Barack Obama, who won the honor in 2014 as a representative of the United States.

This year, the city that never sleeps will get the chance to host one of the most historic sporting events in history. The Stanley Cup returns to the place that it calls home, bringing with it hundreds of thousands of hockey fans and a glorious celebration of the game.

An Unexpectedly Brief Intermission

While hockey is back, the players aren’t taking the summer off. The season will begin on October 10th and end on April 12th, leaving fans with a short break before the next campaign. While the season is brief, the playoffs can last for weeks, with numerous games per night and more than 20 games on some nights. (In 2011, a full 162 games were played, the last one on April 29th.)

Even without the playoffs, there’s still plenty to keep everyone busy. From the Pride of China to the Battle of Europe, international matches will be taking place in the coming months, giving fans of all nations the opportunity to follow their favorite teams during the off season. (The International Ice Hockey Federation will be distributing trophies for these matches, so fans will have the chance to feel as though they’ve won even when their favorite team loses.)

A Legendary Quarterback, A Great Coach, And A Cure For Cancer

One of the stars of this year’s celebration of the NHL’s 100th anniversary is undoubtedly Joe Trabert, who, as a player, helped win four Stanley Cups and who, as a coach, led the Detroit Red Wings to four consecutive championships. (The four-time NHL champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist also holds the distinction of being one of the few former players to have their number retired by his team.)

Trabert is a cancer survivor, having defeated leukemia twice. As a result of his battle with cancer, he dedicated his life to helping other patients survive the same aggressive disease. On September 14th, the NFL and the American Association of Advertising Agencies will honor Trabert with the Legacy Award for Cancer Awareness and Research. (The A4A will present the award to Trabert at an event in New York City on December 14th.)

Other famous faces associated with the NHL this year include Arnold Schwarzenegger, who will be the governor of California during the month of October; Penny Murray, the former captain of the Ottawa Senators (and later the Red Wings); and Joe Burkowski, who won a Gold Medal in the 1972 Olympics for Canada.

Neuroblastoma, The NHL’s Focus For This Year

With the advent of Hockey Fights Cancer Month, the National Hockey League has decided to focus on men and women battling neuroblastoma. (The neuroblastoma advocacy group, NBL, stands for the National Blastoma League, named after this rare form of cancer.)

Neuroblastoma is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, often resulting in death among young patients. It affects approximately 120 kids per year in the United States, and only 40% of those kids survive the disease. (The same percentage of kids who get neuroblastoma survive it as compared to other major forms of cancer, such as breast cancer.)

Thankfully, technology has allowed for more pinpointed treatments and interventions, resulting in fewer kids dying from neuroblastoma than in previous years. Still, the disease remains one of the prime causes of cancer-related deaths among children. (The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) and the Football League (NFL) are partnering to fight this disease this year. This partnership brings with it Hockey Fights Cancer awareness and fundraising efforts for the NBL.)

A Look Back At Past Years

Each year, the National Hockey League honors a different type of cancer with Hockey Fights Cancer Month. While this year focuses on neuroblastoma, previous years’ months of action include colon cancer, thyroid cancer, myeloma, and prostate cancer.

Here’s a quick summary of how the other years played out. (For more information, check out this year’s NHL.com page, which is fully dedicated to exploring the many ways in which hockey fights cancer.)

October Is All About Colon Cancer

The month of October has always been dedicated to raising awareness and funds for colon cancer. Before the creation of Hockey Fights Cancer Month, the NHL would dedicate an entire month to raising funds and awareness for colon cancer during the month of October. (The colon cancer group, Cancer Colon, stands for the Colon Cancer Coalition.)

In general, colon cancer is considered one of the easier cancers to spot and diagnose. It is also one of the more treatable cancers. Thanks to these factors, as well as lifestyle changes that promote a healthy colon, the number of colon cancer cases has declined by 26% in the past decade. (The American Institute for Cancer Care states that between 2005 and 2009, the number of new cases of colon cancer fell by 17% compared to the year before.)

However, even though there are fewer cases of colon cancer than there were in previous years, it is still one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths. (This year, Cancer Colon and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) will be working together to promote colon cancer screening and awareness during the month of October.)

February Is For Thyroid Cancer

The month of February has always been dedicated to raising awareness and funds for thyroid cancer. Before the creation of Hockey Fights Cancer Month, the NHL would dedicate an entire month to raising funds and awareness for thyroid cancer during the month of February. (The thyroid cancer group, CancerThyroid, stands for the Thyroid Cancer Coalition.)

In general, thyroid cancer is a slow-growing tumor that often develops at a relatively early age. Most cases are identified after a routine check-up and subsequent comprehensive thyroid cancer diagnostic panel, often revealing that the patient is completely healthy. This is fortunate, as thyroid cancer is curable with thoracic radiation and/or surgery. (Oddly enough, according to cancer research, fear is one of the biggest factors that promote thyroid cancer. Avoiding fear plays a huge role in reducing one’s risk of getting this disease.)

However, even though there are fewer cases of thyroid cancer than there were in previous years, it still remains one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths. (This year, Cancer Thyroid and the American Institute for Cancer Care are working together to promote thyroid cancer screening and awareness during the month of February.)

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