BELMONT, Mich. (WOOD) — If you have a loved one or a friend going through chemotherapy, then you know it can be draining, but one young boy battling cancer finds motivation by watching videos of his favorite hockey player who he just got to meet.
Hank Burzynski, 7, participated in an annual league-wide initiative, Hockey Fights Cancer, during the Nov. 25 game between the Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes.
Hank was the youth skater of the game.
“The organization joins forces to bring awareness to pediatric cancer, celebrate courageous cancer fighters and raise money for research, in partnership with Comerica Bank,” Meredith Gokey, Detroit Red Wings community impact manager, outreach and engagement said.
Hank was invited to skate on the ice in front of thousands of Red Wings fans and stand next to the starting lineup as the National Anthem was sung.
“Hank did an amazing job and brought an incredibly powerful energy to the fans,” Gokey said.
Following the game, he met Lucas Raymond, which was quite a surprise for Hank, whose interest in hockey began as a toddler. The sport is more than just a hobby.
“First time I started watching hockey, it was interesting to me,” he said.
Hank currently plays with a local hockey league for children with different abilities though, in August 2020, he faced his fiercest opponent yet.
“We learned he had a significant cancerous brain tumor that he had likely had for some time. A week later, he had to have brain surgery. It was an eight or nine-hour procedure,” Hank’s dad, Ray Burzynski, said.
He had another surgery the following month. He has been going through occupational and physical therapy ever since and started chemo last April.
“He is such a unique kid. He is one you would never know had anything going on or has had anything happen to him based on his attitude and outlook,” Burzynski said. “That positive spirit, that light he brings out, has helped our family stay positive through this.”
Though Hank also considers himself to be a strong kid, he admits the treatments can be taxing.
“It has been going good, but a little bit struggling,” Hank said. “Almost every single week I have it, but not every single week when I have my two breaks off it feels good. When I have to go for the week, it makes me tired.”
He found his source of strength by watching highlight reels of Raymond while going through chemotherapy.
“He’s been through a lot on this journey. To see him have a unique and fun opportunity was pretty exciting,” Burzynski said.