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‘Our problems at home are nothing’: Les Canadiennes hospital visit gives perspective ahead of annual fundraiser

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The team’s Pink in the Rink game for breast cancer is on Saturday at Place Bell.

Les Canadiennes

On February 23, Les Canadiennes will be facing off against the Markham Thunder in the ninth edition of their Pink in the Rink fundraiser. The game will be played on its biggest stage, and some of the team’s stars had an unforgettable experience.

Marie-Philip Poulin, Geneviève Lacasse, and Emerance Maschmeyer joined a group of Canadiennes volunteers and staff who took part in the team’s annual visit to the hospital.

The hospital visit includes a tour of the facilities of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC)’s breast clinic, but this year they got to take another step, and met a breast cancer survivor named Malia Morsly. Morsly, surrounded by her family, had surgery just a day earlier and shared her story to Les Canadiennes in her hospital room.

”This was my Olympics,” Morsly said to the players. “And now I’m close to the gold medal.”

If the family was in awe of the players when they walked in, the reverse was true as the players walked out.

”It’s hard to put it into words to be honest,” said Marie-Philip Poulin. “To walk out of that room, we all looked at each other like ‘wow, that was amazing.’ And the positivity [she had]... Our problems at home are nothing, to be honest. You meet these strong people and they go through hard times and they go through it with a smile. They’re surrounded [by] great people. And that’s what life is all about... being able to be surrounded with people when life gets hard.”

Canadiennes general manager Meg Hewings not only offered her and her family tickets to Saturday’s game, but invited her to partake in the ceremonial puck drop. The Canadiennes Pink in the Rink game raises money for the MUHC’s Breast Clinic.

After visiting Morsly, the players, dressed in surgery scrubs, witnessed an ongoing surgery as well.

”I think my mouth was open the entire time,” said Maschmeyer. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. And I think we all felt the same way. You only really get to see those on TV shows. So it was pretty exciting, but also makes it really real. It’s incredible what these doctors do, and the surgeons do. It makes me appreciate what they do for us.”

The Canadiennes have raised over $100,000 for the Breast Clinic since the fundraiser’s inception, including over $20,000 last season. The event started when players - including current coaches Caroline Ouellette and Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux - presented the idea to team management. The major attraction at these games is the auction. The players wear pink jerseys for warmup and the first period which are then auctioned off in the arena and online. They also receive other pieces of one-of-a-kind memorabilia off all different areas which helps raise the funds.

”We all played in breast cancer games throughout college,” said Lacasse. “But I think here, putting a face to the cause and just learning more about it and seeing it... It’s a really, really cool experience for us.”

The clinic sees over 650 new patients per year, and just about 12,000 overall. The good news is that breast cancer has a cure rate of close to 90%, and while a lot of the focus is rightly on the treatment, the after-treatment care patients need is often overlooked.

The money raised by the Canadiennes goes towards providing patients with personal trainers, dietitians or sex therapists, among other services at the Breast Clinic’s Wellness Centre.

”I’m relieved knowing that after [the surgery] they’re being taken care of... having a psychologist, having people taking care of their diet and knowing what to do,” said Poulin. “Actually coming here, seeing what’s going on... it’s amazing and meeting people like we did was quite the honour.”

The game on February 23 will be played after the Laval Rocket host the Manitoba Moose at Rocket amphitheater at Place Bell. A ticket for that game gets you into both the AHL and Canadiennes game. Doubleheader tickets are available here. Tickets for only the Canadiennes game are available here.

”It’s pretty incredible that we can play hockey to support a cause,” said Maschmeyer. “We’re playing hockey anyway for fun so to be able to use that as a platform it’s pretty incredible. I know we’re all excited to to play in that game. And it’s already going to be great competition but having a face to the cause and it’s extra motivation to play hard out there.”