On the ice, Head Coach Mike Letizia trains the Johnstown Tomahawks to face off against stiff competition. Off the ice, Letizia and his family are facing an even tougher opponent.
In June, at 31-years-old, Letizia’s wife, Alana, found a lump in her breast.
An ultrasound, a mammogram and a biopsy confirmed the devastating diagnosis.
“It was really heartbreaking,” Mike said. “We got a call from her doctor that she indeed did have breast cancer.”
Alana is halfway through treatment, but she’s going to need surgery and even more treatment after that. Mike said it’s going to be a long, tough battle for Alana and their family.
“We have a 5-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son. When you hear that word, your world kind of comes crashing down,” Mike said.
With support from friends, family and the team, he said they’re fighting day-by-day.
“She’s so strong and she’s determined to get through it and beat it and be there for our family,” Mike said.
Every year, the Tomahawks hold a Faceoff Against Cancer game to raise money. This year’s game, will benefit Alana and the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center in Windber.
“It was sad, but we all kind of rallied around him,” said Tomahawks Captain Chris Trouba.
They’re selling Chuck-a-Pucks, strawberry lemonade, pink jerseys worn during the game and holding a basket raffle.
Letizia said the support for this year’s Faceoff Against Cancer hits home for his family and the team, now more than ever.
“It shows how much pride is in this city and how much they love hockey and how much they love their team and how much they love each other,” Trouba said.
“I think everyone in some way, has been affected by it. Now, with everything going on, it’s taken on a whole new meaning for me,” said Mike.
The game starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 6th at 1st Summit Arena in Johnstown. Tickets are still available.