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Tomahawks' Eric Tien: cancer survivor, fighting for others
By Ashley Chase
"Beating cancer is all about your perspective, and if your perspective is positive, you're way ahead of the game."
When Eric Tien laces up his skates for the Tomahawks this weekend, he'll be skating with a little more purpose in each stride.
"I was diagnosed around Thanksgiving when I was 16," says the Johnstown forward.
"Being 16 years old for a hockey player is actually really important because that's when schools start looking at you and when your career is supposed to start."
Tien was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of cancer that attacks skeletal muscle tissue.
Tien says, "athletes are better equipped to deal with chemo because it's tough not only physically but mentally."
As a 16 year old, Tien continued to play despite going through chemotherapy, proving his toughness and determination to be a survivor.
"I liked the game so much that I couldn't quit," smiles Tien. "Playing during chemo was helpful. It's hard to separate yourself from being a cancer patient, to being a real person, and i wanted to be a real person." He continues, "playing hockey helps you be a real person instead of a cancer patient, because a cancer patient's life is pretty boring."
Now 20 years old with his cancer in remission, Tien relishes the opportunity to show support in the community, knowing that community support during his battle with cancer, meant everything.
"My team shaved their heads for me when they figured it out, my coach encouraged me to get on the ice and play the best I can."
"Just being normal is just loads of confidence," says Tien. "Really enjoying every second I'm still here."