The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/08/11 at 11:58 PM ET
The Globe and Mail’s Alan Maki reports that Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Wayne Fleming, who recently underwent brain surgery to remove a malignant tumor, and his cause was assisted greatly by Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, whose familiarity with pediatric brain cancer via the Jeffrey Thomas Hayden foundation yielded a possibly life-extending tip:
“Wayne’s gotten some great help,” said Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Dave King, another Fleming friend. “Mr. Vinik [Jeff Vinik, the Lightning owner] met with Wayne and his wife Carolyn and said the team would do whatever was needed. They provided a private plane [to get Fleming to California]. Steve Yzerman has been terrific; the Tampa players, too. And it was Mike Babcock’s contacts that got him to the right people in California.”
When Babcock first heard in early April that Fleming had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, he called to offer support and assistance. Fleming had been complaining about feeling “unclear” mentally. A Computerized axial tomography (CT) scan ordered by the Lightning physicians revealed a sizable mass. A biopsy determined the growth to be malignant.
Babcock told Fleming, “You might have great people checking you out, but what does it hurt to get another opinion?” Babcock then told Fleming about a physician he had met while coaching the Anaheim Ducks, Leonard Sender, the medical director of the Cancer Institute at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. It wasn’t long before Fleming and his wife were flying West to pursue their options.
“Lenny is one of the best oncologists in the world,” Babcock said. “He got involved with Scotty’s son, Stan Bowman [who underwent a stem cell transplant for his cancer in 2007]. He got involved with Lindy Ruff and his daughter [in 2006, 11-year-old Madeleine was diagnosed with a brain tumour and eventually had surgery]. I’ve seen his work with kids. It’s really something.”
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