(Story by Carter Brooks, Game On Magazine–Re-Published with permission.)
On Friday, February 18, a young family from the city of Brandon, Manitoba received life-altering news regarding their first-born.
Thirteen year professional hockey player, Ryan White and his wife Sarah have been told the horrifically dire news that their son Gordie Joseph Ryan White has diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) – a highly-aggressive brain tumour, which historically carries a near-zero percent survival rate.
Affecting the pons – the lowest stem region of the brain – DIPG (which is commonly found in children aged 7-10) makes daily involuntary tasks such as breathing, blood pressure regulation and average heart rate very difficult to maintain, ultimately causing massive organ failure over time.
Typical symptoms of DIPG cancers include difficulty chewing/swallowing, balance issues, speech complications, eye and ear problems, headaches and severe vomiting. Various studies have shown that children with DIPG typically only last an average of nine months following initial diagnosis. One and two-year survival rates are approximately 30 and 10 percent, respectively. DIPG is one of the most catastrophic pediatric cancers.
According to the Go-Fund-Me page setup by family friend Philippa Wintoneak, the three-and-a-half year old Gordie has been the White family’s pride and joy over his short time on earth. The perfect big brother to sister Molly, and the never-ending ray of light in Ryan and Sarah’s day to day, Gordie is described as happy, loving, comedic, witty and charming.
He has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on his world in the three-and-a-half short years he’s been with us, and will continue to for his remaining months and forever after,” Wintoneak wrote. “Sarah, Ryan and their families are dedicated to making every day count and will ensure that Gordie continues to live an extremely happy and full life while he can.”
In an attempt to lengthen his remaining time with his family, Gordie will soon undergo six weeks of radiation treatment. The Go-Fund-Me page will dedicate funds to relieving the additional costs and stress factors in the lives of Ryan and Sarah.
The 33-year-old white began his hockey career with the Montreal Canadiens in the 2009-10 season, following 142 American Hockey League contests with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Never one to back down from a challenge, he will look to help his son in what has become the biggest fight of his short life.
Having suited up for 313 regular season NHL games between the Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, Arizona Coyotes and Minnesota Wild, White owns 31 goals, 61 points and 447 penalty minutes. He also has two goals and 57 penalty minutes to his name in 19 postseason appearances.
The former Brandon Wheat Kings AAA star recently suited up for his local Manitoba Moose, putting up 10 points and 194 penalty minutes in 48 total games. Interestingly, White actually dressed in one game for the Boissevain Border Kings of the 14-team senior men’s Tiger Hills Hockey League based out of southern Manitoba in October of 2020, prior to the province of Manitoba entering ‘Code Red’ of its emergency COVID response.
He and Sarah moved shop to Winkler, after Ryan took on assistant coaching duties with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Winkler Flyers, operating under fellow NHLer Justin Falk.
The family is asking the general public to respect their privacy in this difficult time. Donations to the cause can be made at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-sarah-whitey. As of Sunday morning, $60,000 has been raised by 335 donors.