SCORING GOALS FOR CANCER CARE
Ted Markle is the organizer of the Braestone Winter Classic. Reflecting on his cancer journey, he feels an appreciation—not for the journey itself, but for the perspective, it has given him on the life he feels lucky to have.
“There is a gift that comes with this diagnosis,” explains Ted. “Sometimes people don’t have as long, I’m fortunate that isn’t my case. The gift is the way it pushes you not to take for granted the things that are meaningful in life. I feel full of gratitude. While that word has become cliché, it helps me to take a step back and realize the single biggest driver in life is chance.”
Braestone Winter Classic Returns Feb. 2-4, 2024
Four years ago, Ted noticed a lump on his neck while shaving. He brought it up to his doctor. After a few biopsies, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“Anytime you hear the ‘C word’ from your doctor, your entire perspective is affected,” he shares. “I definitely think about my cancer differently today than I did for the first few months in terms of how my life and my family’s life would change.”
At the time, the treatment plan was to wait and watch. His cancer had already spread and because it was considered to be indolent, or slow growing, there was no immediate need for action.
“Anytime you hear the ‘C word’ from your doctor, your entire perspective is affected, I definitely think about my cancer differently today than I did for the first few months in terms of how my life and my family’s life would change.”
About a year and a half ago, that changed. The cancer became more aggressive. He began chemotherapy at the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre (SMRCC) at RVH, undergoing six rounds of what is called R-CHOP chemotherapy. It’s a mix of five drugs that, in combination with one another, target and kill cancer cells.
Ted’s care team wasn’t happy with how the cancer responded to the chemotherapy, so they added radiation to his regimen. He received 20 radiation treatments. Now that the radiation is complete, he receives an injection every three months to keep the cancer at bay.
“They don’t use the word cure,” he says. “But I’m feeling good. I have lots of energy.”
His brother, Jeff, was not as fortunate. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer affecting his esophagus, stomach, and liver. He passed away shortly thereafter, about a year-and-a-half ago.
“My brother and I used to play hockey together as kids,” remembers Ted. “As adults, we lived far from one another, but he would invite me to play in old-timer tournaments in different places. The last one was in Lake Placid. He was a great player. He always made people comfortable. He made them laugh. He was the perfect person to attend a hockey tournament with.”
While out on a walk with his friend and owner of Braestone Farm, Jamie Massie, the pair passed the pond.
“We were discussing what kind of event could bring people together, and knowing what my family has been through, Jamie suggested a fundraiser directed to the cancer centre.”
From this idea, the Braestone Winter Classic 3-on-3 Pond Hockey Tournament was born. With Ted organizing, Jamie and his family providing the location and a slew of volunteers helping to make it all happen, the inaugural event was held in 2022 and raised more than $70,000 for the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre at RVH−$30,000 more than the original goal.
“There is only one individual prize handed out at the tournament,” says Ted. “The rest are for teams. The Jeff Markle Memorial Award is named in memory of my brother, and it goes to the person who most exemplifies camaraderie, humour and passion for the game.”
All characteristics Ted admired in his brother.
The third annual Braestone Winter Classic takes place February 2-4, 2024 and last year the event raised more than $100,000 for the SMRCC. This year they are hoping to break their previous record and raise $130,000.
“I am incredibly fortunate to be supported by the cancer centre and family and friends. There’s a huge stress relief on your life and that of your caregivers when you can get cancer treatments here at RVH.”
Off the ice, Ted’s positivity is unmatched. On the ice, he says his performance can only go up.
“We didn’t do so well last year,” he reflects of his team. “We had a few losses, but we had fun. They called me the human Zamboni. My wife, Sue, says it’s because I spent most of the time laying on the ice.”
To help patients like Ted keep life wild, consider making a donation today to expand cancer care here in Simcoe Muskoka.