Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Player blog: Hayden Mace: "With cancer, everything changes."

Linfield Starting Center Hayden Mace (#65)
Any longtime or even short time reader of this blog knows what we're about: Celebrating our Linfield Wildcats, talking about past, present, or future seasons/teams, and WC11's occasional poke at our opponents. However, when you come across something that a current player has and is experiencing that is so real and perspective changing it makes you come to a complete stop and just brings life back into focus on what's important and what is just distraction.

Cancer. Probably one of the scariest and most emotion inducing words one can hear. Many of you that are reading this have probably been touched in your life by Cancer in one form or another. For Linfield starting Center, Hayden Mace, Cancer is a word that he probably thinks about everyday and for good reason. In 2008, Hayden and his family lost his younger sister, Sarah, to Leukemia.

I've only recently learned about Hayden's loss and my heart sank for the passing of a young and bright life. I have to admit that I was hesitant to reach out to Hayden to ask him to write about his Sister and his subsequent involvement in Doernebecher's and the Make-A-Wish foundation. However, Hayden was more than willing to write about this as he feels it's a way to let others know to get involved with these foundations and help those that are in the midst of battling this disease.

I can't thank Hayden enough for opening up and being willing to share. It makes me feel great to know there are young people like Hayden that are part of our Linfield family.  -Wildcat11

I was in the last two weeks of my junior year in high school when my family found out that my 15-year-old sister, Sarah, had been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). She had been feeling sick for a few days prior so my parents took her to the doctor’s office to get looked at. At first the doctors thought she just had pneumonia, but after blood work was done, they diagnosed her with Leukemia. She was flown to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland that same day, and my world came crashing down.

My aunt had Leukemia and was fortunate enough to beat it. She helped provide the initial hope and inspiration for Sarah and our entire family. Before long though, Sarah became an inspiration to us, our friends, other children at Doernbecher and everyone we knew. She was cancer-free during one point in her journey, but it came out of remission. She fought hard for 18 long months before passing away early Christmas morning in 2008. She was only sixteen.
Sarah Mace
There are millions of people around the globe who have been affected by cancer one way or another. Some are fortunate enough to beat it. A smaller amount is able to beat it twice, and an even smaller percentage can keep cancer in remission forever. When Wildcat11 asked me to talk about my journey and involvement with cancer, Doernbecher and The Make-A-Wish Foundation, I was honored. I don’t think there is any better way to honor cancer patients, survivors and most of all, my sister.

There are a small handful of guys on the Linfield football team that have been affected, and I wanted to be the friendly voice for them and their families. My family had the opportunity to work with Doernbecher and Make-A-Wish during my sister’s 18-month battle. We have continued supporting both, and I’m currently trying to earn an internship with the Make-A-Wish office in Portland in the Wish Department because of the amazing interaction we had with the outstanding foundation.

Our family went on a “wish vacation” to New York City in the early spring of 2008. Sarah’s wish was to meet the cast of the hit TLC show, “What Not to Wear”, and watch the filming of a show. We were in New York for four incredible days and were able to visit The Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero and Grand Central Station. Make-A-Wish is able to grant thousands of wishes, like my sister’s, every year thanks to the generous donations from ordinary people. I believe it’s important to give back to your community and help out a noble cause, and both Doernbecher and Make-A-Wish are incredible and can use the help of every last minute and dollar of volunteering and donations.

Doernbecher was a tough place to go to because to me it represented illness. I know that Sarah hated having to go back for check-ups or long stays, but it’s what needed to be done. She spent most of her time at Doernbecher and got to know a few of the nurses on a really personal level. She was also a huge inspiration to many other patients. She would walk laps around the hall to try and keep her body healthy and strong. She loved spending time with the other kids in our hall and even passed out candy as a reward to kids for walking laps too.

A former teammate of mine, who is a cancer survivor, lives by the motto LTD: Live the Dream. He is one of the most happy-go-lucky guys I know. He lives each day like it’s his last because that obstacle was put in his way. He doesn’t take anything for granted, and I respect him for that. He’s an inspiration to me and many other people.

I’ve realized throughout the last few years that it isn’t important what you have in your life but rather who you have. Relationships are the number one most important thing in our lives. Just think about that. The most important thing in my life is my family and friends. I’m a fond believer in showing affection for the people you love in your life, and I think that if everyone was more in tune with their relationships, the world would be a much better place to live in.

When someone is diagnosed with cancer everything changes. People’s eyes can really be opened. We really get to see just how fragile life is and just how potentially small we can be in this big world. We hear a lot of inspirational people say that we need to live each day like it’s our last, cherish each moment and enjoy every second. I think that’s absolutely true. Any moment we waste while we’re here is an insult to those who were taken too soon. I challenge you to really do what you want to do with your life. Before you know it the whole thing has passed you by and you’re asking, “Where’d all the time go?” Take value in the things you enjoy, your relationships and making the world a better place. Tell the ones you love how much they mean to you, give back to your community or help someone in need. Do the things that make you happy, and don’t settle for anything less than your best.

I’m thankful to have made the decision to come to Linfield, and I’m proud to be a part of the Wildcat family. I’ve made great friends and they’ve all been like a second family to me. Catdome!

-Hayden Mace
Class of 2011
Hayden and teammates with Sarah at Mt. View High School (Bend, Or.)


wildcat tornado said...

Well said Hayden. Both of my parents are cancer survivors, so I well know "The Big C" and all that fear and anxiety that mixes with the reality for the synergistic feelings surrounding it. Hold on dearly to your Linfield family and as you grow older you will appreciate and love the experience even more than you do now.
I was the center on the '65 Champion Bowl team. I hold high those relationships forged on the fields and halls of Linfield College with some of the finest folks I've ever come to know and love.
Semper Fi con Catdome!
Brian E Petersen '68

TonyJ said...

That was a beautiful and inspirational piece of writing, Hayden. I appeciate the motivation to live life as best I can.

Anonymous said...

Very proud to call you a friend after such a classy assessment of your experience. You sir are an inspiration. I would never have wanted to be in your shoes. Love you. LTD

Patricia E. Farrer said...

Hi Hayden. I think of you and your Mom and Dad and the sorrow of the loss of Sarah. If you are passing threw Goldendale stop and see us. Love to you and family. Pat & Jim

Morgan said...

My friends and well as me are so thankful for having Sarah as a friend. She opened my eyes to so many things, just like you had said living each day to its fullest. I thank God every day for putting her into my life. I love you guys. Thanks again for sharing H.

Anonymous said...

hey my daughter is 11 years old and she too had aml. she was diagnosed October 2007. This was her second cancer that they think she got from the chemo and radiation treatment that she recieved for her first cancer, a tumor behind her right eye(rabdomayosarcoma) N E WAYS !!!
She's doing great right now.
just wanted to say
"with cancer, everything changes"

Anonymous said...

That is really well said and well-spoken your sister was a really wonderful and strong person!