The Bethel University cub hockey team defeated Northwestern 10–2 Nov. 12. The game was Luke Lijewski’s fifth of the year. The team gathered in prayer, as they always do following home games. Photo by | Erin Swanson

He’s got good juice

Bethel University Hockey player comes back from Hodgkin’s.

By Zac Villarreal | Royal Report

The Bethel Royals club hockey team converged together at center ice of the Blaine Super Rink #5, its home arena. Following a dominant first win of the season against Mankato State by a score of 7–2, the Royals ended the night by praying together at center ice.

“As they gathered at center ice, the referee skated to the circle and gave the game puck to Luke Lijewski. All eyes locked on Lijewski, watching as the referee handed him the puck. The club coach, Stephen Whiting, then asked Lijewski to lead the team in prayer. The circle the team had made became more bound, as they bowed their heads and moved closer to Lijewski.

“I think for me my faith and attitude, were two things I got to control during the whole process.” said Luke Lijewski.

Last year, Lijewski’s season was halted when he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.

“I knew that I was going to have him pray. I cried when he did that, I just thought God you are so good,” Whiting said.

Last February, during the end of the season Lijewski noticed a lump on his neck the size of a golf ball. He waited three weeks before asking his mom what they should do. Lijewski and his mom, then made the trip to the doctor’s office together. Right away the doctor knew it was some kind of Lymphoma, and on Valentine’s Day he was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Lijewski met with Coach Whiting to notify him of the situation. He would not be able to play for the rest of the season, focusing on the challenging journey he had ahead.

Lijewski in mid-stride as he anticipated a play early in the season. Likewski has registered nine points, consisting of four goals and five assists in the team’s first eight games. | Photo by Erin Swanson

Coach Whiting recalled Lijewski’s attitude from hearing the news “For him, it wasn’t like this is unfair, it was always I got these results, we got this” Whiting said.

Lijewski carried the same attitude, trusting his faith in God and staying positive in telling his close friends as well. His attitude and faith influenced his friends and teammates to stay positive with him.

Junior Reese Ferrin said, “He really trusted God through the whole thing even when unsure. He didn’t seem to be worried.” Ferrin also added that Lijewski faith rubbed off onto him and his others, saying his attitude through the bad times can inspire anyone.

Lijewski’s journey became increasingly difficult as the treatment progressed and became more intensified. He experienced frustration because of the uncertainty throughout the process and the inability to know what was next. He had been through three doctors before being able to formulate a rough plan of what was ahead. Lijewski went through eight treatments of chemotherapy throughout the summer, losing hair and being exhausted. He felt lethargic especially the days after the treatment losing his appetite and sleeping for much longer than usual. Lijewski described himself as a zombie.

After completing the eight treatments Lijewski thought he had finished and expected to be ready to start his junior year. However, in conclusion of the chemotherapy, Lijewski made his way to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester where the doctors had him go through Proton Beam Radiation. The radiation scan revealed the cancer had actually made it to stage four Hopkins Lymphoma.

“Your attitude and outlook cannot be taken away. You need to work on staying as positive and realistic as possible. Do not get mad over little things, take a step back before you decide how to react.”–Luke Lijewski, hockey player

Lijewski had thought he was done. This meant more treatments of chemotherapy ahead, including 15 treatments of radiation finishing a month into school. To accommodate around this, he registered for online and hybrid courses. However, Lijewski persevered and completed his treatments, while managing school, rejoining club hockey and keeping his faith with a smile on his face.

“I don’t know how you do that, that’s precious, hold onto that,” Whiting said.

Lijewski shared advice to anyone experiencing similar times of hardship, saying: “Your attitude and outlook cannot be taken away. You need to work on staying as positive and realistic as possible. Do not get mad over little things, take a step back before you decide how to react.”