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mezz1962
04-04-2011, 12:05
Yale University Woman's Hockey player, Mandi Schwartz's 27-month struggle with cancer, ended Sunday morning, when she passed away in Regina, Saskatchewan at the age of 23.

Her fight was nothing short of miraculous, and the courage and determination she showed in fighting such a terrible disease, was felt in both the United States and her homeland of Canada.

Schwartz learned in December 2008 that she had acute myeloid leukemia, and her Yale hockey team, immediately went to work, trying desperately to help their stricken teammate.

The team organized drives to find a bone-marrow donor on the Yale Campus, and their search continued until it had stretched across all of North America. Her teammates knew that Mandi would never give up, so they weren't about to either.

Schwartz’s story appeared on ESPN, ABC News, CBS News, as well as other major media outlets. Understandably she did not want to be known, simply as a cancer victim, she was much more than that, and as we followed her story over the past year, it became evident that, the one thing Mandi Schwartz would never allow herself or the people that followed her story to accept was Mandi being called a victim

As with so many people, who are suddenly thrust into the national limelight under such dire circumstances, she was understandably reluctant to accept the notoriety and help that poured in from all over North America. Mandi accepted in becoming the face, for so many who live through all the pain, suffering and mental anguish alone. So many people effected by this all to often tragic condition, grew strength just by knowing Mandi was never going to give up, nor were the many people helping her.

Harry Rosenholtz, a former Yale coach who recruited Schwartz, described the fire and quiet leadership that Mandi held inside her. "Although he said she was always kind, she also held teammates to the standards she set for herself."

“Mandi is extremely mild-mannered, except there was one occasion I can remember where a goalie wasn’t working very hard,” Rosenholtz said in a February interview. “All of a sudden Mandi got pissed and just started firing pucks left and right and beating this goalie. She got the message across.”

That story best shows the quiet leadership Mandi possessed and why she had the respect of her teammates as well as the country that she had been born in, and the country that adopted her. She would accept nothing less from the people around her than she expected from herself, and she did not have to say anything to get her feelings known.

Schwartz was originally diagnosed on Dec. 8, 2008, and left Yale the next day for a 130-day hospitalization to start the first of many battles, against this all too familiar enemy.

The Doctors were able to bring Mandi into remission, and she briefly returned to her former life as a Yale student in January 2010. She was able to return to practiced, and attended classes. But her joy was short lived when just four months later in April she was told that her cancer had returned.

The media blitz and her teammates continued determination. seemed to have paid off when the discovery of two adequate stem cell matches enabled Schwartz’s long-awaited transplant to take place in late September of 2010 at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Mandi battling a weak immune system after the transplant, and dressed in layers of clothing, delivered homemade cookies to an all-girls hockey team in Seattle and helped coach them for a game.

Schwartz valiantly fought her cancer everyday, but last December her Doctors informed her that she had relapsed once more. Her family announced in early 2011 that she would not continue curative chemotherapy, and Schwartz returned home to Saskatchewan for her final months.

The last few months of Mandi life, were spent with her fiancé, Kaylem Prefontaine, and with her other close friends and family.

Despite her worsening condition, Mandi displayed for us one last time, her inner strength, determination and her love of Hockey, as she drove 14 hours with her parents to watch her brothers’ Colorado College team compete in Minnesota.

When I found out Mandi was no longer with us, I was understandable saddened, but her story, her courage and her strength will remain with me forever.

When I read an all to tragic story about the cruelty of humans, and I see people writing about "How cruel people can be to one another and what the world is coming to?", I will remind them of Mandi Schwartz because people need to be reminded from time to time that Mandi showed us just how great we can be.

Dominick Mezzapesa
e-mail mezz1962@optonline.net
Twitter dmezz1120

wolfbugs
04-04-2011, 13:03
Wonderful story about Mandi. I hope all who read this will learn to be just a bit nicer to each other. Thank you for the beautiful story.

The Boss
04-04-2011, 14:41
These stories are so sad. It just kills me to hear these things, or to even think it could happen to someone close to me. RIP Mandi.

Junior
04-04-2011, 17:48
Just awful, I just hope her loved ones find comfort somehow

Jersey John
04-05-2011, 09:25
Kiss your kids tonight after reading this one