Updated: January 05, 2022 07:27 PM
Created: January 03, 2022 10:06 PM
Currently in his sophomore year of college, Jake Lamberty has skated against hundreds of opponents throughout his nearly 20 year hockey career. However now he's battling one he can't beat in a face-off circle, cancer.
"I kind of just want to get after it," Lamberty said.
Two months ago ringing in the new year from a hospital bed was far from Northland College 22-year-old Lamberty's plans for 2022. But in mid-November everything changed
"It kind of caught me really off guard because it was just small chest pains that turned into 'oh, you have something growing off your heart'," the forward recalled. "Then it's fly home, in the hospital for a couple days and do all the rigorous testing, and then it's 'you have Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. This needs to get worked out right away.'"
The next steps are treatment, with chemotherapy beginning on January 3rd.
"As we know, with regards to an illness like this, it doesn't have any boundaries on any age or person or who you are," Northland men's hockey head coach Seamus Gregory said. "But when it happens to someone like Jake it really hits close to home."
While he's tackling the disease with family by his side in Arizona, for Jake home is where the hockey is, in Ashland. His Lumberjack brothers, and now his extra attackers against cancer, are virtually standing by him every step of the way.
"The boys back home, I guess it would be back home for me because I feel like I'm away from home right now, I can't ask for any more support from them," Lamberty shared. "I'm surprised right now my phone hasn't rang just asking me how I've been."
Chatting with WDIO last week Jake said he's feeling alright. Even though he's not suited up on Northland's bench, the jersey bearing his name hangs above it every game.
"It just honestly rejuvenated me," he said after the team shared the gesture for the first time.
Coach Gregory added, "hockey is a family. It's one of those things that when you have somebody who's hurting, it's good for everyone's mental health to have Jake travel with us."
The entire hockey community in Wisconsin and beyond has put their sticks out, already raising half of a $50,000 GoFundMe goal.
"Trying not to break down right now but...everybody that has reached out, call, text, doesn't matter, it all helps," Lamberty said. "It's just all that positivity that I want to be flowing through all this."
"We really wish he was here but we know he will be here in the very near future," Gregory said. "He'll be ready for camp next year and bigger and better than ever."
Gregory reminds everyone, no matter how young or old, to get regular screenings for cancer.
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