Hayley Wickenheiser, a champion of women's hockey in Canada, has taken up a new cause in Calgary after learning her long-time friend and trainer was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The 41-year-old retired hockey player has started a GoFundMe campaign alongside her sister to help Dr. Syl Corbett, a therapist and trainer who was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer on Dec. 24.
"I knew something was going on, but maybe not to the severity, not to the extent," Corbett told CTV News Calgary.
"I think as an athlete, we're used to enduring a lot, so it was a surprise. Certainly not a position I would ever think I would ever be in, but athletes, they make us tough."
Wickenheiser credited Corbett with "every gold medal" and accolade she has ever won over the past 10 years.
"Her brilliant training and approaches to therapy allowed me to stay on top of my game for years," she wrote in the campaign's post.
Wickenheiser told CTV News Calgary Corbett's diagnosis has been a tough pill to swallow.
"That's kind of a discordance with her presentation and how bad the cancer is in her, but it's also a testament to how mentally tough she is."
She adds Corbett has never taken a penny from anyone and was even reluctant to have her start up the campaign, but Wickenheiser says she was compelled to do so to help her with the mounting medical costs of her treatment.
"I am seeking to raise funds to offset medical costs, IV treatments, and living costs as Syl’s livelihood relied on her ability to perform body work on folks and her own body just isn’t allowing her to do that at this time," she continues.
"I humbly ask for help to give Syl the opportunity to receive the treatments and quality of life she has afforded so many throughout her life."
So far, the GoFundMe campaign has raised over $75,000 of its $100,000 goal.
Wickenheiser says alternatively or in addition to the campaign, those wanting to help can also purchase items from Corbett's own company, Rock On Clay, which offers athletic balm and a number of other products.
"She plans to get through this so she can pay it forward to the next person who may need the help."