Chilliwack hockey community joins fundraising fight for Abbotsford police officer battling cancer

Chilliwack Minor Hockey is involved in a bottle drive fundraiser for Ryan ‘Chopper’ Masales.

The Chilliwack Minor Hockey is throwing its weight behind a fundraiser for Ryan ‘Chopper’ Masales.

An Abbotsford police officer who lives in Langley, Masales has been battling Glioblastoma Multiforme cancer for the past three years.

His last MRI showed the cancer is growing despite treatment, and Masales is now forced to seek treatment south of the border.

The cost of the treatment is $200,000 and a GoFundMe campaign has raised just north of $171,000.

“Chilliwack Minor Hockey was approached to be part of a bottle drive fundraiser this Sunday (Jan. 19) that also involves the Chilliwack Coliseum and some members of the Chilliwack Chiefs,” said CMHA president Mike Jordan. “Our board was really keen about the idea and we view it as a good way to give back.

“Not only are we looking to develop hockey players and athletes, but we want to help promote good citizenship as well. This is one avenue we’re looking at.”

The battle Masales faces resonates with many in Chilliwack. Kevin Morris was a local RCMP officer who lost a fight with the same type of cancer in 2016. The Sardis secondary grad passed away at the age of 36.

“It’s also the same brain tumour that Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip succumbed to,” Jordan said. “The greater community of the Lower Mainland ­– they’re all getting behind ‘Chopper’ with various fundraisers because they realize the importance of it.”

The price tag for the treatment that Maseles seeks is daunting.

“A genome map of Ryan’s tumor shows that he has the biomarkers for a Phase 0 study being performed at the Ivy Brain Tumor Center in Phoenix, Arizona,” his wife, Estelize, wrote on the GoFundMe.com page. “This means that the treatment there could possibly be extremely effective in treating his deadly condition.

“The treatment involves amongst others, a brain surgery, MRI and several blood labs for which MSP will not provide us any funding.”

Jordan calls the price tag shocking, but at the same time not surprising, given what he knows of the United States medical system.

“When you ‘re fighting something like this, the last thing you want to think about is, ‘Can I afford something that can save my life?’” Jordan said.

A bottle drive would theoretically be a modest contribution to the larger effort, but Jordan is cautiously optimistic about the funds they can raise.

“It’s a good time for it too because everyone had the drinks over the holidays, and I don’t think a lot of them have brought their bottles to the Return-It Depot yet,” he laughed.

It’s also a good test case for CMHA, with Jordan and the board wanting to get more involved in the community.

“We haven’t done at lot of this, yet, but it’s something as a board and association that we’re interested in doing,” he said. “We have 800 athletes plus their families and everything. For them to take a little time out of their day to help someone who is less fortunate, that can pay huge dividends.”

l The bottle drive will be Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the Chilliwack Coliseum functioning as a drop-off station.

To volunteer or get more info, email Jordan at president@chilliwackminorhockey.com.

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