clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Brian Boyle Diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia; Hopes to Play in Season Opener

New, comments

The New Jersey Devils announced through a conference call that Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia. Despite the CML diagnosis, Boyle intends on playing in the team’s home opener. This post is a reaction to this evening’s news.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs
Pictured: Brian Boyle throwing a check. Despite a CML diagnosis, he wants to play (and throw checks) for the Devils in their home opener on October 7.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

So far Brian Boyle has been absent from training camp due to a personal issue. This evening, the personal issue was addressed. The New Jersey Devils held a conference call with Boyle to announce that he has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). According to the American Cancer Society, CML is a type of cancer that originates in certain bone marrow cells.

Fortunately, the CML was detected early enough and it can be treated. What’s more is that Boyle himself is hoping to still play in the team’s home opener on October 7. That’s something I am still marveling at. From Andrew Gross’ story at NorthJersey.com:

“It’s largely treatable and it appears to be early in the disease,” said Dr. Michael Farber, the medical director of executive health at Hackensack University Medical Center and the Devils team internist.

There is no immediate timetable for Boyle to begin treatments – Farber said Boyle’s CML can be “largely treatable with medication” – but Boyle said he’s hoping to be in the Devils’ lineup for their Oct. 7 regular-season opener against the Avalanche at Prudential Center.

According to Bob McKenzie on Twitter, the medication itself is oral. As far as I understand it, that may be it in terms of treatment. As far as Boyle himself goes, he’s been in Chris Ryan’s article at NJ.com:

"My wife and I, we've had a few long nights," Boyle said. "Fortunately for us the kids are young enough where they don't have to deal with the questions and worrying. We are in a good place right now. What the potential and what it could have been, and what it turned out to be, this is positive news.

"I feel very fortunate, very blessed. We've had a tremendous outpouring of prayers. If there's anything I can ask is that continues, because it's something I've seen first hand heal cancers and heal situations that are said to be untreatable. For us, we're in a good spot. We have a plan of attack here, and I'm looking forward to getting on the ice and playing."

...

"I don't like missing games. It's just a thing you have to deal with, and that's for us to deal with," he said. "Hopefully the season can go on as normal, as regular as possible. We don't have to be asking about it all the time. If I suck one night, it's because I suck, not because there's any other reason. If that's the biggest issue, then that's a good thing."

I’m marveling over Boyle’s response and his hope to not even miss a regular season game. Not even the first one that is happening in a little over two weeks from today. To me, it would have been no issue at all if it were to take an indefinite leave or not speak to the press. Boyle has been rather candid about wanting to pla and I really believe he will do everything he can to do so. If he can play, he will play and that’s fantastic. He does not even want to have CML be an excuse for a bad game. For lack of a better phrase, this is all inspiring. Whether it’s doing what you love, doing what you need to do, or even just trying to keep in good spirits, doing either through adversity is massively impressive.

As far as the reference to seeing heal cancers, that would be with his father, Artie Boyle. Brian Boyle has written about it in this article at ESPN back in November 2014. Bob McKenzie tweeted the article stating that the Boyle family “beat [cancer] into submission.” I couldn’t agree more and I certainly hope Brian is the next one to do succeed.

For further confidence, Ryan’s article noted that Jason Blake was diagnosed with CML back in 2007. He played all season in 2007-08 and another 281 games in the following four more seasons after that one. By no means does this diagnosis mean that is the end of Boyle’s career.

And by no means is Boyle alone. Based on what Boyle has said, he’s surely received loads of messages from people he knows in his life in and out of hockey. The outpouring of support on social media from other players and teams has been huge. The same can be said for hockey fans from supporters of teams he’s played on, fans on teams he hasn’t, and the Devils fans who want him to step on the ice on October 7 and continue to do what he does for a living. Members of the hockey media have displayed their support for Boyle’s new fight. Support will certainly continue from the team, the union, and the league among others.

On the behalf of everyone at All About the Jersey, we wish for the best for Brian Boyle and his family. We hope his treatment is successful and that we will see him on the ice for the Devils’ home opener on October 7.