Love for hockey carries 14-year-old through two tumours
Published Tuesday, November 13, 2018 5:41PM MST Last Updated Wednesday, November 14, 2018 12:03PM MST
Two brain tumours have occasionally kept a 14-year-old Sherwood Park boy off the ice—but never out of the game he loves most.
Days before Peyton Kalbfleisch’s first hockey practice, doctors found a benign but concerning tumour on the then four-year-old’s cerebellum.
His mom, Tracey Kalbfleisch, said it was like a “big baseball on the stem of his brain… which is the network of everything that you do: your talking, your walking, your swallowing.”
The child’s first hockey practice was suddenly the least of his parents’ concerns.
“From the time he was first diagnosed with the tumour, it was four days later that he was under the knife,” recalled his dad, Chris.
A 12-hour surgery was successful, but it caused paralysis on Peyton’s left side and left him with the functional abilities of a six-month old.
One year later, Peyton had recovered enough to play with his hockey team on the ice—albeit, on his hands and knees or with his father’s help when needed.
When Peyton was able to stand on his own, he settled into the position of goalie—which required less mobility—despite losing his peripheral vision in the surgery.
“He was a very exceptional goalie, in a mother's eyes of course,” Tracey laughed.
Then doctors discovered a second brain tumour.
Eleven surgeries later, Peyton lost mobility in his right hand and had to hang up the skates, but his passion for hockey never faded.
Instead, Peyton’s occupational therapist at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital suggested they build chairs out of recycled hockey sticks to regain strength in his right hand.
The first chair was a gift to his father. Another was auctioned for the Stollery Children’s Hospital. And in the time since, others have noticed Peyton’s work.
“We’ve got 16 people that we have to make chairs for,” the now 14-year-old explained.
With each chair, Peyton’s strength and mobility improves.
“My right hand still kind of shakes, but it’s going good,” Peyton said.
The chairs take about two hours to make and are sold for $150 each, $30 of which is donated to the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.
Peyton said the project “means a lot” to him, but that he still hopes to return to the game.
“This summer, I’m trying ball hockey but probably I’m going to be starting goalie again.”
Individuals who would like to drop off sticks for Peyton can do so at:
- Sports Closet, Sherwood Park Mall
- Sports Closet, St. Albert Centre
- Tier One Energy, 4253 97 Street, Edmonton
- TSN 1260, 18520 Stony Plain Road, Edmonton
- Sculpted Finery Studio, 134 Pembina Road, Sherwood Park
Or, donations can be arranged by calling the Kalbfleischs at 780-467-8610.
With files from Matt Woodman