OAKVILLE, Mo. — His family calls him a miracle. But Luke Harashe sees himself as just another teenager who won't let anything — not even cancer — stop him from doing the thing he loves.
“It’s like another pathway out," said Luke. "Once you get on that ice you forget about everything that’s going on really.”
Luke is a senior forward recently turned defenseman for the Oakville hockey team. He volunteered to play defenseman after a string of recent injuries and suspensions left the team needing help at the position. Needless to say, Luke is selfless. He's also relentless, bearing a fortitude of which every hockey player would be envious, despite his disease.
“Just feeling sick a lot of times, wake up, feel ill, like a headache or throwing up," said Luke.
“I’ve had several rounds of chemo — a bone marrow transplant," he said.
It all started in the fall of 2016.
“He had a pain in his neck that would not resolve," said Julie Harashe, Luke's mother. "His physical therapist at the time said you might want to get an MRI because something is just not making sense.”
Tests revealed Luke had Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
"It's hard to believe. You just can’t imagine that happening to your own child," said Julie.
There's no question Luke was facing the biggest fight of his life. He decided to use hockey as his greatest motivator.
“He’ll text me and say hey coach I’m not feeling well, and it’s, like, maybe 11 am or so, ‘I don’t know if I’ll make practice tonight.’ And it’s kind of become a joke because I know he’s going to be there. He shows up every time," said Tyler Sollberger, Oakville's head hockey coach.
After roughly a year of treatment, Luke finally stepped on the ice again for the first time. He fell; according to Luke, he "wiped out" immediately.
He didn't let the falls stop him either.
It wasn't long before Luke was back in a uniform and starting on the first line again.
“In a way it’s like a medicine just stepping on the ice to get it out of your head, just makes it so much better," said Luke.
Luke is still undergoing treatment for his cancer while playing for the Tigers. And oh yeah, he's also the team captain.
“There was no question he was going to be a captain," said Sollberger. "A true leader really, so he’s worked extremely hard to get back on the ice and I’d say he’s real close to his full self.”
Luke's dad, Rod, still can't believe what he's been seeing in his son.
"People watching him out here playing, they don’t realize all the stuff he’s been through. And for the first time he stepped back out and played a game I was amazed," he said.
But Luke keeps a level head. He's very humble.
“I think that if anybody else was going through this too I think they would be out there in the same shoes as me. I don’t think they would stop either," he said.
"I don’t think I’m anything special, honestly, because I think that if they like something this much I think they’d go with it and never stop.”