You can flip through the NHL stat book, the Guinness book of world records, but you’ll have to go Sickskids Hospital in Ontario, Canada to find out who holds the record for the quickest time in and out of a post liver transplant. But if you could take one guess of who that might be, I bet you can get it right (Hint: you're reading about him). That’s right, eleven-year-old Brock Chessell, nine days. Nine Days is the fastest time any transplant recipient has ever recovered and left the hospital.
On April 26th, 2017, Brock was diagnosed with Stage 4 hepatoblastoma, commonly known as Liver Cancer. “I didn’t know what was going on, I was just angry that I was in the hospital,” recalls Brock Chessell. What Brock didn’t understand was that he was experiencing a life threatening disease that only effects 2 out of a million people and that this would affect his life for the next few months. Regardless of the diagnosis, nothing was going to stop Brock Chessell from getting back on the ice.
Brock immediately started Chemotherapy to try and reduce the size of the tumor. That evening, going against the doctor’s order of taking a break from hockey, he began to shoot slap shots in the basement of his home in St Marys, Ontario. Brock’s decision mirrors one the NHL’s greatest players Mario Lemieux, who skated in a game verse the Philadelphia Flyers on March, 2, 1992 after completing his last radiation treatment for Hodgkin’s disease. Today, Mario Lemieux is considered one of the most talented hockey players in history; with Brock’s determination, I’m excited to see what his legacy will be at the end of his career.
You can’t teach that kind of resilience and determination, that’s what makes Brock so special. “Throughout all the treatments, fatigue, and pain, Brock continued to smile through it all, giving everyone around him hope and inspiration,” explains Julie Chessell, Brock’s mother.
Hockey, I’ll see you again in 22 days
After 16 weeks of Chemo Therapy, it was time for Brock get rid of cancer for once and for all. On August 23rd, 2017, Brock was set to receive a liver transplant. Before Brock checked into his room, he wrote on the white board outside the room (usually reserved for nurses to write notes about the patient), “My goal is to set a new record for the fastest time out of the hospital after a transplant.” Brock’s message continues, “I Brock will be out of the hospital on Saturday morning and nobody can stop me. #SevenStrong #CancerFree #CancerSurvivor #KickCancersAss,” – Brock Chessell #NobodyCanBeatMe.”
Nine days later, Brock set the record for fastest recovery time of any transplant recipient and was out of the hospital the following Saturday morning.
However, it wasn’t time to get back on the ice, there’s still 13 days left until we get to that part! For the next 13 days, Brock and his family moved into the Ronald McDonald house to recover. “It was different, at this point I just wanted to go home, there was a lot of younger kids, so I spent most of the day in my room,” recalls Brock. “The only difference was that I was sharing a house with other families, but for the most part my family kept together and we went about our day as if we were back at home.”
There’s four key dates that Brock will remember without thought for the rest of his life; the date of the diagnosis, April 26th, 2017, the date of surgery, August 23rd, 2017, the record setting day he left the hospital, September 2nd, 2017 and the 22nd day after the liver transplant, September 14th when he returned to hockey practice. “Hockey has been his sanity throughout this whole process, from diagnosis, through recovery, that’s his motivation, to get back on the ice” explains his mother, Julie Chessell.
Giving a helping hand by pampering your own
Throughout Brock’s battle with cancer the Chessell family received a lot of support through many cancer organizations; Child Can, a privately ran organization helping families with financial assistance, POGO, a government run Canadian assistance program for cancer patient and the Liver Foundation. As a way to show gratitude and appreciation for the support that Brock and the Chessell family received, Brock has made it his mission to give back to everyone who helped him throughout his treatments. Since leaving the Ronald McDonald House in September, Brock has been fundraising to help support families who have a child facing Pediatric Cancer.
Brock and his family will be fundraising at the Legacy Fights Cancer tournaments this year. To learn more about how Legacy Global Hockey fights cancer, please visit lgshockey.com/legacy-fights-cancer (Link will be tracked)
Can’t make the tournament but still want to help fund Brock’s mission? Email firstname.lastname@example.org