PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Suiting up to play hockey is something Chris Kushneriuk shouldn’t be doing. Talk to his doctors, and Chris shouldn’t even be alive.
“Last November, the doctors gave me six months to live,” Kushneriuk tells KDKA-TV Sports.
At age 25, Kushneriuk was diagnosed with Stage-4 testicular cancer that had spread throughout his body.
The former Robert Morris University team captain had lost 50 pounds and was hurting physically and emotionally. Then, he got the greatest news anyone could ever hear.
“I remember when my doctor came in, I was sitting in the chair. I just prayed that when he came in he would come in with a smile on his face and give me some good news,” said Kushneriuk. “And he comes in the room and had a big smile, and says, ‘So, I guess you heard the good news.’ And I was like, ‘How would I hear the good news? You’re my doctor.’ He told me that things are looking good.”
The cancer may now be gone, but its effects remain.
Kushneriuk’s medical bills topped $300,000. The hockey community, including the Pittsburgh Penguins and RMU, sprang into action and they’re continuing to do so as they look to “Krush” cancer.
“His nickname used to be ‘Krusher,'” says RMU head coach Derek Schooley. “So, we took ‘Krush Cancer’ with a ‘K.’”
“We’re still looking about $50,000,” Kushneriuk says, “but at the end of the day, the money’s not important, and I know we’re gonna get there and the guys have been fantastic about it.”
The guys being RMU’s hockey team, who will be raising money at their games this Friday and Saturday night.
“It’s amazing what the human spirit can do with a little bit of faith,” Kushneriuk says. “So, I’m very fortunate to be here and we certainly have come a long way. It took everything that I had, more psychologically than physically. It was difficult, but now everything is just icing on the cake.”
As for getting back to hockey, for now it’s just practicing with his former team in between classes.
But, look for Kush to rejoin the Wheeling Nailer, as soon as they have an opening on their roster. They won’t find anyone more grateful to be there.