“He”s scared. We”re scared,”” saidTerry Gordon. “People say, ‘Oh, that”s a greatpicture of your son on the front page of the paper,” and Isay ‘He”s freaking bald.” Yeah, he looks good,but it”s not something you want to see.”” The news of Gordon”s condition spread quickly. “I was devastated,”” said Hingham High coach TonyMessina.
“I could not believe it. Especially these highschool kids. You think that they”re invincible.”” So do many of the players themselves. “An 18-year-old kid?You never see that coming,”” said Jim Gordon,James”s father.
“When I went into Dana Farber with him,those other chairs are filled with kids, and I was just floored.Cancer is a disease that has no boundaries.”” Information is key Another core principle for an athlete – “know and respectyour opponent”” – is also crucial in battling this kindof cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, testicularcancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in men ages 18 to 35.But getting young men to realize something could be wrong ischallenging. “It”s not even on their thought list that they”reanything but invincible, and they don”t think they havecancer,”” said Dr. Douglas Dahl, chief of urologiconcology at Massachusetts General Hospital, of his teenagepatients. “Plus, it”s a sensitive, awkward thing.They”re still children.”” Early detection is paramount. Stainless Steel Heat Exchanger Tubes
Gordon acknowledged somethingdidn”t feel quite right as long as nine months ago, butdismissed a size discrepancy because he wasn”t in pain.Hockey was his focus, and his play didn”t provide anyindication that he was sick. “I just put it in the back of my mind,”” saidGordon. “I didn”t think about it, because I had a bunchof stuff going on, with hockey, and it didn”t really botherme.”” However, one of testicular cancer”s most insidiouscharacteristics, said Dahl, is that early stages are rarelypainful. Gordon was in the midst of an MVP-caliber season – theGlobe All-Scholastic would tally 21 goals and 19 assists to leadthe Harbormen in scoring – that gave no hint that anything waswrong. “I wish he would have noticed this, or he would have come tous sooner, but he”s a kid,”” said Jim Gordon.”He thought it was a strain or something. Carbon Steel Seamless Pipe Manufacturer
He didn”tthink it was cancer. Nobody does. But he did not want to sit. Hejust wanted to play hockey, and he fought right throughit.”” Strong faith James is the oldest of four Gordon children. Stainless Steel Heat Exchanger Tubes Manufacturer
The youngest,2-year-old Jennavive, has Down syndrome. But, according to Messina,the Gordons have a strong faith, and a strong support network. “We don”t get to choose who gets sick and whodoesn”t,”” said Terry Gordon. Shortly after Gordon”s diagnosis, the family learned that theethic of “team first”” extends far beyond theinner circle of the young men who play for the Harbormen.
The town,including the Gordons” parish at the Church of theResurrection, rallied around the family. “Probably 24 hours after his diagnosis, there were meals forthe next three months lined up,”” said Ryan Linehan,one of Gordon”s close friends and another Hinghamtri-captain. The hockey community also pitched in. Former Boston Bruin PhilKessel, now a Toronto Maple Leaf and a testicular cancer survivor,called James (“He said this will make me a better person, astronger person,”” said Gordon). Bruins legend BobbyOrr visited.
The owners of Pilgrim Skating Arena, theHarbormen”s home ice, pledged to match donations up to$25,000 for the Gordon Family Trust to help defray costs associatedwith the illness. On May 17, roughly 500 attended Gordo”s Gala, a fund-raiserheld at Lombardo”s function hall in Randolph. In a strikingshow of sportsmanship, players from rival schools such as St.Mary”s of Lynn, Austin Prep, St. John”s Prep, andBoston College High all contributed. For Tim Jones, a former Harborman, the response spoke volumes abouthis friend.
“That just shows the kind of person Jamesis,”” said Jones. “He”s very respectful, onand off the ice. It was just great to see all those kids come outand support him.”” St. Mary”s assistant coach Chris Nagy, a friend of Hinghamassistant John Mahoney, mentioned Gordon”s situation to histeam”s captain, and both the boys and girls ran with it.
Theysold red T-shirts emblazoned with Gordon”s No. 17 in a whiteshamrock and Gordon”s rallying cry: “We gotthis.”” At the Gordo”s Gala event, they presentedthe Gordons with a $2,260 check. Encouraging news On Monday, James Gordon began his latest circuit of chemotherapy,the final of his four-part regimen. This round, though, wastempered by encouraging news.
Last week, the family was told thatrecent scans indicated the tumors in James”s abdomen andlungs appear to be shrinking. “I haven”t heard a lot of good news lately, so I waspretty pumped about that,”” he said. Still, Gordon faces a long, unpredictable road. Following thiscurrent chemotherapy round, he”ll have four to five weeks tocleanse his system before surgery to remove the abdominal tumors.After a six-week recovery period, he must deal with treatment forthe cancerous nodules in his lungs. For now, Jim and Terry Gordon share James”s one-day-at-a-timeapproach to life and the disease, grateful for the support andhoping for the best.
They want to see their son graduate with hisclassmates on Saturday. But Jim also knows that James,Hingham”s quiet captain, doesn”t want any specialattention. “I told him, ‘James, unfortunately, whether you like itor not, you are Hingham”s son now,” “” saidthe elder Gordon. ” ‘And for better or worse,it”s an honor. You just have to embrace it.””” Try BostonGlobe.com today and get two weeks FREE.