'I was absolutely floored': Support rolls in as long-time Saskatoon Blades staff member battles cancer
SASKATOON -- Bobby Kirkness, the tong-time dressing room attendant for the Saskatoon Blades, is in a fight for his life.
In 2016 Kirkness overcame leukaemia, but just three weeks ago was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic and liver cancer.
“I’m still trying to grasp it,” said Kirkness. “Because I don't really feel that sick, other than a lot of stomach pain and stuff, but I actually feel pretty good.”
“(Pancreatic cancer is) probably the third deadliest cancer that a person can get it. It’s not good, but hey I'm going to work through this and fight through it.”
The team has put logos with his initials BK on the backs of their helmets in his honour, as they begin play in the WHL bubble in Regina.
“Bobby can’t come to the hub with us, but we were willing to do our part a little bit in bringing Bobby to the hub with us,” said Blades’ assistant general manager Steve Hildebrand. “He's just a really good human being.”
“He makes guys and players feel comfortable and anyone who walks through our dressing room, and when he's around he's always smiling and he's always trying to make sure everyone's having a great day.”
“He's part of our family,” said Blades’ captain Chase Wouters. “He's definitely a big part of it, and you know we'll bring him along and any way we can.”
“I’ve been floating on air for a week or more it's just such an honor to for them to think of me in that manner,” said Kirkness. “It just means so much to me and my family and friends, and yeah it's it's pretty remarkable.”
Kirkness says he underwent chemotherapy treatments in 2016 and is instead choosing natural remedies to combat his cancer.
“I know what chemo does,” he said. “I don't want to be sick if I'm not going to be around for very long. I want to make sure that I feel good the time that I'm around.”
These alternative treatments won’t be covered by insurance and could cost up to $1,000 a month, prompting Blades’ staff member Tyler Wawryk and Kirkness’ son Brennan to create a GoFundMe page.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the page had already raised more than $12,000.
“I was absolutely floored,” said Kirkness.
“I couldn't believe it. I think the first four hours and it was like $5,000, I was like ‘oh my god’. It's a wonderful gesture that's for sure, and I don't know how I'll ever repay it.”
“You can see by the reaction of people how much support Bob really does have,” said Hildebrand.
Kirkness says he’ll be watching when play begins in the Regina hub, and is looking forward to getting back into the dressing room for the beginning of next season.
“It'd be nice to have a training camp again and be at the rink every day,” he said. “Just to get in and be with the boys.”