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Ontario

Pink in the Rink special for Peterborough Petes player Easton Rye’s mom

Elke Rye only hoped that she would live long enough so that her son Easton would not forget her.

Easton Rye was two years old when his mother was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Now 16, he’s Peterborough Petes’ third goalie this season, and she’s one of five hockey moms serving as ambassadors for Saturday’s Pink in the Rink fundraiser against the Oshawa Generals.

Elke, her husband Scott and Easton attended the first-ever Pink in the Rink, and she remembers one woman speaking about a treatment that extends the life expectancy of patients with advanced breast cancer to five years.

“That was my original goal, five years, and I thought my son would remember me,” said Elke Rye in an emotional testimonial she recorded with YourTv’s Dan Malta.

“I’m still here and stuck away. People have no idea how much these types of games and community initiatives that Petes and other OHL teams have created mean to us hockey moms, dads and kids because everyone is affected by cancer at some point in their lives. I just didn’t want him to grow up without a mother.”

Easton told The Examiner he was too young to really understand the seriousness of the situation while she was in her treatment phase. He’d just gotten used to having a babysitter on the nights his father took her for treatments.

“I knew she had cancer, but I didn’t know the extent,” he said.

When his friend Tucker Williams and uncle Randy Steenburgh died of cancer, he knew full well what she had experienced. Now he takes inspiration from her.

“I admire their dedication and their struggle not to give up,” he said. “I can say that I struggle on the ice every day of my life but it will never match her life-or-death scenario that she had to go through and keep all that stress off me when I was very young . I can’t even imagine what she, my father and my family went through.”

It was more than a year before Rye received a proper diagnosis, and by then her cancer was quite advanced.

“I didn’t think people in their 30s would get breast cancer and they just kept dumping me,” she said. “When it was found out, it wasn’t a good situation. They didn’t even want to give me a prognosis. It was so bad.”

She endured a year of chemotherapy, 30 rounds of radiation, and multiple surgeries.

“Our family quit on one kid because chemotherapy took that away from you,” she said.

She’s in remission nearly 14 years later, but doctors don’t say she’s cured.

“Every year you worry, ‘Will it come back?'” she said. “I always have that in the back of my mind. Luckily for me, I’m on medication to prevent a relapse made possible by people’s fundraisers. I think we all worry about it, but we still try to live our lives.”

There, hockey played a central role in Rye life.

“It really helped us focus on something else,” Elke said. “I always thought I would give back when I’m ready to tell my story and I feel like this is the right time.”

Since participating in the first Pink in the Rink, it has been a special event for her. It takes on a new meaning with her son now part of the team.

Joining Rye as Ambassadors are Jennie Ireland, Dara Gosselin, Karen Tarkington and Dana Thorn.

The Petes will wear commemorative jerseys, which will be available at the Pink in the Rink live post-game auction presented by Rusland’s Auctions.

All proceeds go to the Peterborough Regional Health Care Foundation for cancer treatment programs and equipment.

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