Skip to content

'Beyond committed to staying alive': Port Moody hockey player's mission to recover from another brain tumour

Port Moody's Wade MacLeod was diagnosed with a brain tumour for the third time last December.
1021-MacLeodUpdateFile 1w
Port Moody's Wade MacLeod retired from hockey after a second comeback from a brain tumour got him brief stints with professional teams in Great Britain and Norway.

A Port Moody hockey player is beating back cancer — again.

But Wade MacLeod’s battle to overcome a second recurrence of a glioblastoma tumour in his brain is proving more gruelling and costly than anticipated.

In an update to the GoFundMe effort launched last December by a family friend, Mike Armstrong, that’s already amassed more than $112,000, MacLeod said a new chemotherapy drug called Lomustine has stabilized and even shrunk the regrowth in his brain that was diagnosed at Grade 4 — the highest, most aggressive form of the disease.

“My oncologist and her team were equally excited but also shocked as they said ‘this is never seen in neuro science’ with the type of tumour I have,” MacLeod said, adding he’s also been following a rigorous regime of hyperthermia that uses hot water to kill cancer cells, as well as IV, dietary and mindset therapies provided by a team of specialists at Port Moody Integrated Health.

But the encouraging result from his latest brain scan in late May has boosted their efforts as MacLeod can’t be on Lomustine beyond nine months and the monthly cost of up to $10,000 for his supplemental treatments isn’t covered by insurance.

“Unfortunately, because of my adjusted treatment plans, my modified schedule has increased by over $5,000 a month from our original budget,” MacLeod said.

That’s resulted in a new fundraising goal of $150,000 for the GoFundMe effort.

MacLeod, 37, said smaller initiatives have also been pitching in. Kids in their neighbourhood contributed funds from a lemonade stand they ran. The hockey team his daughter, Ava, plays for donated $2,000 in Costco gift cards to help his young family pay for groceries. His brother, Chase, organized a Superbowl Sunday fundraiser.

“It has all been truly overwhelming yet so humbling for my family and I feel so loved and supported during this time,” MacLeod said.

Undrafted coming out of a junior career with the Merritt Centennials and four years of college at Northeastern University, the left winger was in his second season of professional hockey in Springfield, Mass., when he collapsed on the ice during a game. Subsequently, doctors removed a tumour the size of a golf ball from the left side of his brain.

MacLeod lost the ability to speak, but extensive speech and physical therapy restored his voice and got him back on the ice.

After MacLeod knocked around the ECHL for various teams and played 34 games for the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League — a rung down from the NHL — he headed to Europe.

In his first season with the Rosenheim Star Bulls, in Germany’s second division, MacLeod scored 61 points in 50 games.

But during the off season, the tumour came back and in September 2016, doctors removed a cancerous glioblastoma.

Again, MacLeod fought to resume his career.

In March, 2017, he signed with the ECHL’s Allen Americans in Texas. He scored 13 points in 13 games and added another eight in 11 playoff games.

That fall, MacLeod returned to Germany where he resumed his point-a-game scoring pace with another second division team, the Frankfurt Lions.

MacLeod, his wife, Karly, and newborn Ava were getting ready for a third season in Germany — this time in Dresden — when he had another seizure.

Doctors removed a Grade 3 glioblastoma and MacLeod embarked on another journey back to health and his playing career.

“I said from the very beginning that cancer wasn’t going to be reason I retire from professional hockey,” he said.

In 2021 MacLeod signed a contract to play for the Manchester Storm in Great Britain’s Elite Ice Hockey League. It didn’t go well and, after scoring just a single point in seven games, he headed to Norway’s far north where he played six games for the second division Narvik Arctic Eagles and another for Lillehammer.

In June, 2022, MacLeod retired from hockey, returned to Port Moody and went into the insurance business.

“I gave all my life to hockey and now it is time to turn the page on something that I am equally passionate about, one of the universe’s greatest gifts: life,” he said on his Facebook page.

Now with a family of four after the birth of another daughter, Georgia, MacLeod said he’s resolute to carry on this latest mission to regain his health.

“It’s not easy,” he said. “But I am beyond committed towards staying alive which is such a surreal thing to simply write.”

Walk for a cure

The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is challenging people across the country to embark on a walk sometime in June to help raise $1.4 million to fund research into cures for diseases like glioblastoma.

Participants can register their own individual effort or enter as a team. You can even track the total kilometres being walked by joining the Brain Tumour Walk Club on the Strava social fitness app.