|Maple Leafs forward Jason Blake has rare form of leukemia|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 08 October 2007 10:23|
The 34-year-old left wing has started treatment and doesn't expect to miss any playing time.
``When you find out that you have something it's definitely shattering to your whole family and so on,'' Blake said after practice. ``Overall, I feel good. I'm still here and my goal this whole season hasn't changed.''
He has chronic myelogenous leukemia, a slow-growing cancer of the white blood cells. Blake said he got the test results Friday and broke the news to teammates Monday at Air Canada Centre.
``I think to get it off my chest and to move forward is a big weight lifted,'' he said.
Blake of Moorhead, Minn., had 40 goals and 29 assists last year with the New York Islanders. He signed a $20 million, five-year deal with the Leafs in the offseason.
``It's an unusual sentence to hear - the first word is cancer, the next word is leukemia, and then everything should be all right,'' Toronto coach Paul Maurice said. ``I'm not familiar with the condition so it was new that something like this would be as treatable. And for such a positive sentence to come after such a negative sentence, it takes a little while to get your head around it.''
The team said Blake will be monitored by the club physician and his cancer specialist.
``I think the prognosis is outstanding,'' team doctor Noah Forman said. ``He's taking medication which he has already started. It's a daily medication, and it should definitely put the condition under really good control and allow him to continue on with a long and healthy life as well as his career.''
Blake, who broke into the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings in 1998-99, is a four-time 20-goal scorer.
``My goal has not changed since I heard this news,'' Blake said. ``And that's come to Toronto, bring another piece of the puzzle and hopefully win a Stanley Cup here.''
Blake missed the last 13 games of the 2000-01 season with the Islanders to be with his pregnant wife, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She gave birth in April 2001, two weeks early, to a girl and later had throat surgery to remove a tumor that turned out to be benign.
While in the prime of his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a form of cancer that attacks the lymph nodes. He began radiation treatment in February 1993 and returned to the lineup a month later.
Hours after receiving his last radiation treatment, Lemieux flew to Philadelphia and had a goal and assist in his first game in two months. He went on to win his fourth NHL scoring title despite missing 24 games, more than one-quarter of the season.
Current Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu also resumed his career following abdominal cancer and missing most of the 2001-02 season. He recovered in time for the playoffs, where he had 10 points in 12 games and led the Canadiens to the conference semifinals.