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Hockey saved her life

By Doug Lunney Winnipeg Sun WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Canada -- I always thought former NHLer Daryl Stanley was the toughest hockey player to come from the Stonewall (Manitoba, Canada) area, but that title might belong to Jamie McClintock. She had a ra...

Jamie McClintock
Former University of Wisconsin-Superior captain Jamie McClintock, shown here moving the puck up ice during the 2007-08 season. McClintock is in remission from acute promyelocytic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

By Doug Lunney

Winnipeg Sun

 

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Canada - I always thought former NHLer Daryl Stanley was the toughest hockey player to come from the Stonewall (Manitoba, Canada) area, but that title might belong to Jamie McClintock.

She had a rare type of blood cancer and survived two strokes, pneumonia, meningitis and 38 days in a coma, but McClintock has been cancer-free for five years and isn’t looking back.

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“The doctors said had I not been so physically fit and healthy from playing hockey, my heart would not withstand what it was going through,” McClintock said recently. “Without the cardio training from hockey a normal heart would just give out.”

McClintock’s “life changed within the blink of an eye” on July 31, 2009. She had completed a fourth season as a centre on a scholarship with the University of Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets, where she was the team’s captain.

She was a semester from earning her degree in Exercise Sciences when she came home to spend time at her family’s cottage on Lake Manitoba.

She was tubing behind a boat when she was overcome with fatigue. Once on the boat, she passed out.

Her older brother, Dale, called an ambulance, which rushed her to a hospital in Ashern. Doctors thought she suffered a concussion and she was rushed to Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg for a CT scan, which found three brain bleeds.

“They induced me into a coma because I was so unstable,” McClintock said.

It was determined she sustained a hemorrhagic stroke in the boat. Further testing found a form of blood cancer, acute promyelocytic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia.

“It was a rare type that they had never seen, because I had leukemia in my blood and in my spinal fluid,” she said. “It was one of only 500 documented cases in the world.”

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The last known survivor of this cancer was found in China, so doctors there were contacted for advice, she said.

McClintock, while on a ventilator, immediately received chemotherapy. But she suffered another stroke among other setbacks and within three days doctors advised her family to say goodbye.

Her mother, Bernice McClintock, refused to believe it and 38 days later McClintock came out of her coma. Her hospital stay lasted 55 days and she dropped from 135 pounds to 102.

It was her mom who told her of the leukemia when McClintock woke up.

“I said ‘Oh, well. Can’t change it now. I’ll do what I’ve got to do to beat it,’” said McClintock, 27.

On her 22nd birthday, nurses told her she was in remission.

Insurance restrictions didn’t allow her to return to Wisconsin to finish her degree, and transferring to university closer to home would have set her back two years.

She switched gears and graduated from a paramedic program in 2012, which is her current occupation in Winnipeg. Not bad since she needed a walker for two months due to the two strokes.

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McClintock, who continues with regular blood tests, shared her story on a blog (lifechangesinthe blinkofaneye.blogspot.ca/) that has attracted readers from all over the world.

She recently attended the second annual Winnipeg Light The Night walk at The Forks. The fundraiser brought survivors, supporters and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada representatives together for a 5 km walk to help end blood cancers.

McClintock was walking in memory of her grandfather, Bumpa McClintock, who died of leukemia in 2008.

“Jamie McClintock is among the best to ever play here at UWS,” Yellowjacket head coach Dan Laughlin said. “Jamie was a very skilled hockey player, but more than that, she played with a lot of heart, her battery never quit. She was also great teammate, a great leader and it’s no surprise to me that with her strong determination and perseverance that she beat cancer.”

NOTE: Daryl Stanley played for the Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks from 1982-90. Stanley finished his NHL career with eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points in 189 games, along with 408 penalty minutes.

Related Topics: YELLOWJACKET SPORTS
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