“Last night, we honoured those who have bravely faced cancer and stood with them as #HockeyFightsCancer,” wrote the Vancouver Canucks social media team on Thursday, Nov. 30, the day after a home game against the Anaheim Ducks.
8-year-old Weston Ireton, a local athlete that plays for the Port Hardy Hawks who was diagnosed with leukemia when he was just two-years-old, was one of a handful of cancer survivors who were invited to attend the Canucks versus Ducks game on Wednesday night, getting to hit the ice with the teams.
Weston and his family arrived at the arena around 6 p.m., where he went down to the dressing room with the Canucks handlers and put on his Hawks gear for the game that was scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Adam Ireton and his wife Kristen weren’t with their son on the ice, they were watching the game from the stands.
It was “totally overwhelming,” Adam said while describing the experience of getting to see Weston on the ice at Rogers Arena. There were “lots of happy tears.”
Weston was the first one to leave the tunnel and join the hockey clubs for the the pre-event puck drop ceremony.
Adam said Weston was “pretty nervous to start, he wasn’t sure what he was going to have to do, he thought he might have to go out there and actually skate a warm up with the Canucks, but once we talked him through it he was pretty excited to be out there with the other kids.”
As for how he ended up being invited to the game, Adam said Weston’s oncologist Rod Rassekh is “a really big Canucks fan, so he invited Weston to participate when he found out about the event in early October.”
This is Weston’s first season getting to play organized hockey, and he’s been loving the experience so far.
“He wanted to learn how to skate first, so he went through a ‘learn to skate’ program last year,” said Adam. “He actually quit that halfway through the season because he’d learned enough, so this is now his first year playing.”
Weston’s older brother Beckett plays for the U11 North Island Eagles rep team, and he was one of Weston’s earliest inspirations to pick up the sport.
“He’s been watching Beckett play for years now, so he’s been really excited to get in there and follow in his footsteps,” laughed Adam. “Weston is only playing half ice right now because he’s U9, but he thinks he’s a goal scorer, so that’s his plan.”
As for Weston’s battle with cancer, his oncologist and nurse recently fired him because he’s two years out of treatment now.
“He’s on to a different level of care where he doesn’t need his oncologist anymore, which is good news, and he’s doing really well,” said Adam. “He’s just a regular kid who gets to do whatever he wants now. He’s turning into a great little guy, curious, adventurous, talkative, has tons of friends, enjoys going to school, and he really loves to draw and is into music.”
“Thanks again to the Canucks and to the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer night.”