Fighting Cancer

Miracle Drug with Israeli Roots Saves Jewish Hockey Player Hit With Cancer

JTA • TAGS: Cancer, Cancer treatment

Hockey Player Sam Fields

Hockey player Sam Fields was diagnosed with cancer at age 27, just weeks before he was scheduled to go to NHL training camp. (Courtesy ICRF)

This story is sponsored by the Israel Cancer Research Fund.

CHICAGO — Hockey had been the focal point of Sam Fields’ life for almost as long as he can remember.

A Chicago native who got into the sport at the age of eight, Fields had been playing professional hockey for about five years when he was tapped for a tryout with the National Hockey League. At the age of 27, he was on the cusp of becoming one of a handful of Jews in the NHL.

But just weeks before he was to head off to NHL training camp, Fields could barely rouse himself from bed. He was sleeping for 20-hour stretches, unable to shake off physical exhaustion. One day after forcing himself out of the house to run some errands, Fields passed out while behind the wheel of his car.

Initially, doctors thought he had the flu. But it quickly became clear that there was something much more serious going on. Fields eventually was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML, a particularly aggressive form of cancer. Fewer than one in three such patients survived beyond five years, and Fields appeared to be in the advanced stages.

He was given two weeks to live.

The full story is available here.