Alex Luey is a youth hockey player for the Niagara Falls Flyers and was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancer that lives inside the bone. Alex had part of his right leg amputated, but with the support of his community and a successful surgery, Alex is already back on the ice. With his new prosthetic, he is re-learning how to skate and play the sport he loves dearly.
Sunday on Sportsnet’s Hometown Hockey, Alex Ovechkin, inspired by Tiny Alex’s story, surprised the youngster and gave him a gift that reduced him to tears.
“He complained about a sore leg. He had just gone back to hockey through the summer. Like intense dry land training and that. I said ‘Oh you pulled a muscle.’ I put muscle cream on it and we gave it some time. He continued to complain about it,” described Alex’s mom, Cat Luey. “And then he begged to go in a hockey tournament because his team was playing in the first tournament. So we agreed. He said it felt better and that he was okay. He went to school on Monday and fell at recess. Couldn’t get back up.”
The diagnosis was cancer and Alex immediately thought cancer meant death “because you hear about Terry Fox, people like that, who battled cancer and lost their lives. I started crying and it was a scary, scary moment. Then my parents and the doctors told me that it was probably going to be okay and I was going to make it.”
The family was given three options: full amputation, limb salvage surgery (where the bone is replaced by artificial bone), and rotationplasty. Alex was explained that with rotationplasty, because the ankle would function as a knee, it would give him much more agility and movement. He would be better able to do everything he loves to do and get back on the ice. The decision was clear for Alex and he went into surgery for a rotationplasty procedure.
Alex started chemo on Thanksgiving, almost a year ago, and to say the community support was strong is an understatement.
“When I came home from my big surgery, the street was lined with all sorts of people. Friends, neighbors, the hockey team, firetrucks, and firemen,” said Alex. “All sorts of stuff like that and it was pretty cool.”
While the family’s first instinct was to cocoon and fight the fight together, Cat said “everyone wanted to do something. They just want to help”. Alex felt great about his support system and explained “it felt like a force field around you, like nothing can touch you. You feel really good”.
Alex went for follow up tests in May and he was declared to be 100% cancer free, and is back on the ice learning to skate on his new prosthetic leg.
Hi story was shown on the Hometown Hockey special, where he was given a quick question of “Who is your favorite player?” Alex answered, without hesitation, “Alex Ovechkin”.
If you don’t already have tissues, you might need some now.
— Hometown Hockey (@hometownhockey_) October 9, 2017
A special message from Ovi was given to Alex, which said “Hi Alex, it’s your buddy Ovi. I hear you’re cancer free. You’re coming to the game in Toronto in November. Can’t wait to meet you. So I’ll see you there soon.”
The video was hard to hear, so after a quick explanation of what Ovi said, Alex broke down crying.
He also delivered a shoutout to his Aunt Beth.
I’m already stacking up on tissues to see Alex meet Ovi, so you probably should too.
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